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 . . .
"Bread & Coffee." The new Department of Public Charities municipal lodging house at 432 East 25th Street in New York, which opened in February 1909 after four years of construction. "The first municipal lodging house fitted up by the city was a boat moored at the foot of East 26th Street in 1895, followed a few years after by the building at 398 First Avenue, just north of 23rd Street." (NYT) 8x10 glass negative, George Grantham Bain Collection. View full size.
July 15, 1921. Cleon Throckmorton at the easel on the terrace of the Krazy Kat, an establishment described by the Washington Post two years earlier as "something like a Greenwich Village coffeehouse." Scroll down to the comments for more on "Throck," an engineering graduate who made his name designing sets for Eugene O'Neill's plays, and was the first art director for CBS in the early days of television. View full size. National Photo Company Collection.