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:
October 1938 at the Alamo. "Mildred Irwin, saloon singer at North Platte, Nebraska. She entertained for 20 years in Omaha before coming to North Platte." Medium-format safety negative by John Vachon. View full size.
Letter from John Vachon to his wife, Penny:
October 29, 1938
Last night I had an adventure. Of the 1st water. To have it I had to get kind of stiff. And I did, dear. Pretty plastered. But it was all in the line of duty, eminently legitimate and justifiable. About eight o'clock I went into a corner saloon. It was a saloon in the grand tradition. I drank only beer, but great gobs of it. At the piano was a big huge large fat blonde woman of 45 to 50 yrs. With beautiful smeary red makeup on her puss, and huge mammy type bosoms. And her voice, O that you could hear her voice. She has Sophie Tucker in the wastebasket . . .
May 1942. Langley Field, Virginia. YB-17 bombardment squadron. "Hitler would like this man to go home and forget about the war. A good American non-com at the side machine gun of a huge YB-17 bomber is a man who knows his business and works hard at it." View full size. 4x5 Kodachrome transparency: Alfred Palmer.