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About the Photos

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 • ROSES BY VINCENT VAN GOGH, 1890

Happy Birthday Shorpy!

Happy Birthday Shorpy!

December 1910. "Shorpy Higginbotham, a 'greaser' on the tipple at Bessie Mine, Alabama, of the Sloss-Sheffield Steel and Iron Co. Said he was 14 years old, but it is doubtful. Carries two heavy pails of grease, and is often in danger of being run over by the coal cars." Photograph by Lewis Wickes Hine. View full size.

Shorpy was born 114 years ago on November 23, 1896. After this photo was taken, he lived 17 more years until he died in a mining accident at the age of 31. This Thanksgiving, let's raise a toast to his too-short but memorable life.

 

Training, sort of?

Not trying to justify the working conditions that Shorpy and his pals had to work in, but I guess it was good training for the trenches of France where many of these guys would be a few years later. Heck, one might say that Army life was a vacation compared to day-to-day at the Bessie Mine.

Thanks to Shorpy for his inspiration and to Dave for taking the ball and running with it.

Salute!

All my respect goes to the hardworking miners of the world.

Happy Birthday, Shorpy!

This was a rather poignant entry, Dave; thanks for all your fine work on here. Shorpy and I share the same birthday, and had his luck been better he probably would have been alive when I was born in 1959 on what would have been his 65th birthday. I think it is wonderful that an ordinary hard-working guy is memorialized on this site, and I hope he's is aware of it, somehow, somewhere, and is amused by it. I also hope that short and hard as his life was, that Shorpy had moments of joy and laughter that outshone the tough times. Happy 114th, Shorpy!!

Always center stage.

I can't help but think that although he was short of stature, he was someone to reckon with. Everytime he's in a picture somewhere, he is in the middle of the picture.

A real handful. The strange things you deduct from pictures.

Happy birthday Shorp!

Lunch is on me

Shorpy is my lunchtime friend. When the the boss comes around, invariably when I'm eating al desko and asks what are you doing, I answer either "a BLT" or "Shorpy."

Glad to know now

that this excellent website is named after someone who would have otherwise been forgotten by history. I find Shorpy's story fascinating and the website a great part of my every day. Thanks for this site and keeping Shorpy's memory alive. A guy who worked hard and served his country.

Land of Equality

Who says that America isn't integrated???

Happy Birthday Shorpy!

I love the great history of the U.S. Thanks for the site.

Shorpy Higginbotham's story

This is Joe Manning, of the Lewis Hine Project. For Shorpy readers who haven't seen it, here is the sad story of Shorpy Higginbotham, and it appears on my website.

Little Men

There's a heartbreaking lot of little men in this picture. Look at those expressions. It was a different world, and we have it way too easy, now--for which I am thankful!

Thanks for the site, Dave. It was an inspired idea.

Happy Birthday Shorpy

Gotta say, when i was 20, I was out partying, now that I'm 50 I've found a better way to spend my nights, and that's with you dave, and especially SHORPY.

Daily reminders

Every day, without fail, includes a visit here.

Young Henry Sharpe, aka "Shorpy," looks out at me every time as a reminder of my blessings. I do hope he had some in his short life.

Another lowly worker, of a different kind, Green Cottenham, brought through exploration of his life a detailed look at oppression, in Douglas A. Blackmon's unforgettable book, "Slavery by Another Name."

I am grateful for the images I see here each day, which serve to reinforce the great faith and effort to achieve true freedom and justice in this country.

I am more grateful for the support which makes this site continue its important contribution to the understanding of what we had, what we have, and what we still must achieve; and for authors such as Mr. Blackmon, who "keep going," to bestow honor on the lowly heroes of our past.

One for Shorpy

I will raise a glass high and take a long drink in his honor.

A question for Dave or Ken. What prompted you to choose Shorpy's name and face for this site?

[The three photos of him just reached out and grabbed me for some reason. Poignant, I suppose. And the name "Shorpy" was appealing -- unique as far as Google was concerned (just one hit), and available as a domain name. - Dave]

No Joy in Mudville

It is true that the future of these innocents was inevitable if they were born into the mineworkers' families in small towns and hollers in which mining was the only work available. There were few choices and to earn a living, they just had to 'man up', take the high risk jobs of (literally) backbreaking labor, accept that any day could be their last and were glad to have any job. These strong and courageous men and boys were not seeking fame and admiration, just struggling to support their families and do their jobs well. Like many people, even today, they were probably considered "nobodies" by the upper crust of society but to their families they were saints and saviors. My mom told me that when her father finished his day at the mines and walked home, his wife had a warm bath ready (with hand-carried, stove-heated water), then started every meal with soup (to clear out the throat and lungs of soot) and made it clear that he was appreciated by his kids all helping and serving him. I can't speak for everyone but in his case, they never got wealthy (owed their soul to the company store), suffered many family tragedies and his work-related injuries stayed with him for life. Things were so different then, it is hard to believe it was just about 100 years ago, but people truly struggled to survive. We don't know how lucky we are today. Happy birthday Shorpy, we hardly knew ye.

I never realized

in all the time I've spent here, that the site was named for a real person. Thanks so much for giving us this great place to visit and expand our views of history, and special thanks to Shorpy himself.

Recognition

of Shorpy's lot in life serves to enlighten all of us of with unvarnished looks at the way this country developed. Thanks to Shorpy (who might be a relative) and all who make this site the success it's become.

Happy Birthday Shorpy!

And many thanks to Dave for always providing a great way to start each Morning with visions from the past!

Happy Thanksgiving to all!

A glass for Shorpy

And I don't even drink.

There is much that is haunting about many of the photos that you post, but especially Shorpy's. I'd like to think that somewhere, somehow he's aware of this site and marvels that people know and remember him a hundred years later.

A toast from me

Raise your glass to Shorpy
Who worked at Bessie Mine
He lives on in our memory
Because of Lewis Hine

Happy Thanksgiving, Shorpsters

Happy Birthday Shorpy

Thanking God today that children don't have to endure what Shorpy did. Yes, I realize children were tougher then, but life was so dangerous. Thanks Shorpy for your legacy.

Thank You Shorpy

For being there every day ... Thank you Dave for this fantastic website. I wish we had one like this in the Netherlands. Very pity we don't. May you live on forever and ever. It would be nice if Shorpy H. could see these beautiful photos on his own PC up there in Heaven!

Possible genealogy

I think I've found the 1900 Census record for Shorpy:

His real name was Henry.

Unfortunately the name has an inkblot over it but all the details work out. His father was a miner. He would have been about 3 years old in 1900, and lived in Graysville, Jefferson Co., which is where Bessie Mine is.

[His birth name was Henry Sharpe Higginbotham. The basic facts of his life are recounted on Shorpy's Page. Scroll down for the genealogical details. - Dave]

Remembering Shorpy

Down here in the southern hemisphere we are mourning the loss of 29 miners in a mine explosion in New Zealand. I think it is fitting we remember Shorpy and all the nameless ones like him.

www.rwyoung.com.au

Happy Birthday and Cheers Shorpy

I think it's great that Shorpy Higginbotham (by the way, I know a Higginbotham) is remembered presently as the name and face behind this site that shares our history through "family photographs" for us to enjoy and enrich each other with our posted comments.

I hope any one of us has this remembrance decades after our passing.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Here's to Shorpy -

The hard-working young man, and the fascinating website. Cheers!

Shorpy, we celebrate your birthday,

Yet we are the ones who receive the gifts, not just once a year, but every day that we visit this always interesting and sometimes incredibly moving blog that Dave created and named for you.

Thanks to you both and here's to another year.

You do honor to his memory.

And thank you for running an important historical site.

I wonder

if Shorpy was related somehow to my 6th grade teacher Mr. Higginbotham, because I remember thinking what an unusual name he had and had NEVER met anyone who had a name like that ... until now!

Another milestone

Next month will mark the 100th anniversary of this picture and the other photos of Shorpy taken by Lewis Hine.

Happy Birthday Shorpy!

Shorpy is one day older than my Dad who was born 11-24-96 and died on 1-24-64.

Shorpy remembered

What a singular thing it is for an otherwise forgotten life to be remembered, even memorialized, this way, via Shorpy, the site. Combined with that, the poignant story of Shorpy the person, his childhood and abruptly shortened life - I gotta say, it brings a tear to my eye.

Happy birthday Shorpy

Happy birthday!!! You are not forgotten

 
THE 100-YEAR-OLD PHOTO BLOG
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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