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Most of the photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs, 20 to 200 megabytes in size) from the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) Many were digitized by LOC contractors using a Sinar studio back. They are adjusted by your webmaster for contrast and color in Photoshop before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here.

 
 
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VINTAGRAPH • WPA • WWII • UNFAIR TO BABIES, 1936

Big Cop: 1938

Big Cop: 1938

October 1938. "Policeman, Lincoln, Nebraska." 35mm nitrate negative by John Vachon for the Resettlement Administration. View full size.

 

Inspires respect

A look back at the good old days when they hired police officers whose mere size and presence inspired respect.

I doubt many young punks disrespected this officer to his face like they do nowadays.

I love this photo

I know nothing about the photographer, John Vachon, but this shot made me take a look at his work here Shorpy, and I'm glad I did. My favorites (like this one) seem to have this something casual or playful about them, while still being formally well-composed.

Nick on O Street

That would be Officer Nick Nichols, at 11th & O streets, looking west, doing what was known as "O Street time"--standing on Lincoln's main street in the downtown business district, not so much to direct traffic as to portray a visible police presence. Gold's department store on the SW corner to his left is easily identified today, as is City Hall--the former Post Office and Federal courthouse, also extant today, and still under municipal care a block further west on the north side between 10th and 9th. I would peg this photo as about 1942.

[As noted in the caption, the picture was taken in October 1938. Below, more of John Vachon's Lincoln photos, including the officer's other side. - Dave]

Lincoln, Nebraska 1938

Tor Johnson

His day job.

Now I get it

My son once described the back of my head and neck as "looking like a package of hot dogs". Although this officer's is not quite that extreme, I can now see what he meant.

I'm sure of one thing

This cop would never have needed to use a taser, even if he had one.

Next frame: death stare.

I wonder if the clicking noise made him turn around.

They don't wear hats anymore

Remember when cops wore hats? In some cities it was required that they wore their hat when dealing with the public. Nowadays, it's no hat, a buzzcut or a shaved head, and wraparound shades.

Negative, I know ...

But he looks like a lot of present day and women on the street just coming out of McDonald's. You don't see as many people this large prior to about 1950 or 60. That's one large man judging by his head and back! Whoa!

The Addams Family

Uncle Fester on patrol.

 
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Shorpy.com | History in HD is a vintage photo blog featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1950s. The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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