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.
Vintage photos of:
Alexandria, Va., 1861-69. "The Marshall house, King & Pitt Streets." Wet plate glass negative, right half of stereo pair. Photographer unknown. View full size. Who'll be the first to put this together with its companion image in a very short flipbook and post it to YouTube? Or it could be an animated gif. Either way, we'd have the world's earliest (and shortest) HD movie.
The 1930s posters done for the Works Progress Administration have proven to be especially popular in the Shorpy gift shop, so Juniper Gallery has started Vintagraph, a Web site dedicated to high-quality reproductions of this unique artwork on museum-grade French art paper. Favorites include the curiously popular Keep Your Teeth Clean as well as the heroically proportioned Don't Jay Walk. We're adding new posters every day at www.vintagraph.com.
October 1940. "Million Dollar Highway is cut through massive rocks in Ouray County, Colorado." U.S. 550 between Silverton and Ouray. Now a paved modern highway, this is a spectacular mountain route that I've driven many times over the years. View full size. 35mm Kodachrome transparency by Russell Lee.
Another selection from the LOC archives of Alfred Palmer's strikingly composed large-format black-and-white transparencies shot in December 1941 at factories in Akron and Cleveland. White Motor Company, Cleveland, Ohio. "Halftrac scout cars. Putting precision-made pistons assemblies into precision-made cylinders is a job that fits this former auto worker. The engine will be the power plant of an Army halftrac scout car. The Midwest plant that is turning it out has trained American automotive workers for every job on the line." View full size. 4x5 nitrate negative by Alfred Palmer for the Office of War Information.
December 1936. Dickens, Iowa. "Part of the L.H. Nissen family of ten living in a three-room shack. Rest of family at school. The whole house was of unusually high humidity. The wife said they could not dry out the bedding because of the poor ventilation. This is the living room and kitchen combined." View full size. Medium format negative by Russell Lee for the Resettlement Administration.