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:
"Mission where Elsie Sigel met her slayer." Photograph circa 1915. The body of the 19-year-old missionary, granddaughter of Civil War hero Franz Sigel, was found in 1909 bound in a trunk in her lover Leon Ling's fourth-floor apartment at 782 Eighth Avenue in New York, next to the Chinese restaurant where he was a waiter. Ling disappeared, and the crime remains officially unsolved. View full size. Read more about this notorious murder here (continued here). 8x10 glass negative, George Grantham Bain Collection.
"Bring out yer rats." Ferrets were used in turn of the century New York to track down rodents. Here is the result of one such hunt in 1908. You want to be dressed in a jacket and tie for this kind of work. From the George Grantham Bain Collection. View full size.
In 1911 Thomas W. Burgess was the second man to swim the English Channel. It took him 22 hours and 35 minutes. It's not clear if this photo is from that event, but he's definitely not dressed for recreational swimming. Burgess also swam for Great Britain in the 1900 Summer Olympics. George Grantham Bain Collection.