The Shorpy Gallery
 
5000+ fine-art prints suitable for framing. Desk-size to sofa-size and larger, on archival paper or canvas.
 
Join and Share

 
Social Shorpy

To love him is to like him. Our goal: 100k "likes":

 
Syndicate content
Syndicate content
Syndicate content
Daily e-mail updates:

 
 
 
 
Member Photos


Photos submitted by Shorpy members.

 
Colorized Photos


Colorized photos submitted by members.

 
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.

 
 
JUMP TO PAGE   100  >  200  >  300  >  400  >  500  >  600
VINTAGRAPH • WPA • WWII • FLY CANADIAN PACIFIC, c. 1950s

Mining

Trapper Boy: 1908

Trapper Boy: 1908

Trapper Boy, Turkey Knob Mine, Macdonald, West Virginia. Boy had to stoop on account of low roof, photo taken more than a mile inside the mine. October 1908. View full size. Photograph and caption by Lewis Wickes Hine.

 

Shut This Door That Means You

Shut This Door That Means You

Vance, a trapper boy, 15 years old. Has trapped for several years in a West Virginia coal mine at 75 cents a day for 10 hours work. All he does is to open and shut this door: most of the time he sits here idle, waiting for the cars to come. On account of the intense darkness in the mine, the hieroglyphics on the door were not visible until plate was developed. September 1908. View full size. Photograph and caption by Lewis Wickes Hine.

One trapper's description of the job, which paid about $1.60 a day:

Trappers were responsible for opening and closing the underground ventilation doors. In those old mines, they had a system of doors between sections to direct the flow of air. Air was supposed to go up the main haulage and back to the fan. So a trapper sat all day by his door with an oil lamp on his cap. There was a "manhole" - a shelter hole in the wall by the track. The motorman would blink his light at me, and I'd throw the switch and open the door for him. Then, I'd jump into the manway until he was past, and run out and close the door. A trip would come along about every hour. Was I bored or lonely? Well, it was my job.

 

Dave: 1910

Dave: 1910

Dave, a young "pusher" at Bessie Mine. Jefferson County, Alabama. December 1910. View full size. Photograph and caption by Lewis Wickes Hine.

 

Shorpy and His Friends

Shorpy and His Friends

December 1910. "Shorpy Higginbotham, an oiler on the tipple at Bessie Mine" -- near Birmingham in Jefferson County, Alabama. Photograph by Lewis Wickes Hine. Entire uncropped image.

 

Shorpy at Work: 1910

Shorpy at Work: 1910

"A greaser in a Coal Mine. Location: Bessie Mine, Alabama." November 1910. View full size image or view Shorpy even bigger (cropped). This is, as far as we can tell, the first of only four photographs Lewis Wickes Hine took of Shorpy on his visit to the Bessie Mine late in 1910. (The others are here and here and here.) Almost 100 years after being taken, they retain a strange and startling immediacy even though their subject is almost certainly dead. Who were you, Shorpy Higginbotham, and whatever became of you?

What became of Shorpy? Here's a summary of what we think we know, based on research using census and death records, contributed by visitors to this site: Shorpy -- Henry Sharpe Higginbotham -- was born Nov. 23, 1896, in Jefferson County, Alabama, to Phelix Milton Higginbotham and the former Mary Jane Graham. He served in the armed forces during World War I. On Nov. 19, 1927, he married Flora Belle Quinton. On Jan. 25 of the following year he died in a mine accident at the age of 31, crushed by a rock, and was buried in Jefferson County. He became a father, posthumously, when his widow bore his child in the summer of 1928. The writer Joe Manning says he has spoken with Shorpy's son but that he didn't want to talk. You can read more about Joe's report on his Web site.
 

Ewen Breaker: 1911

Ewen Breaker: 1911

Noon hour in the Ewen Breaker, Pennsylvania Coal Co., South Pittston. January 1911. Spooky full image. Photograph by Lewis Wickes Hine.

"Breaker boys," or slate pickers, sat astride the breaker chutes, through which the coal roared, and picked out slate and other debris by hand. Boys as young as 8, working ten-hour days, began their coal careers in the breakers. They were paid less than the adults who performed the same work and faced the hazard of hand injuries or even falling into the chutes. Some breaker boys were the sons of miners who had been killed or disabled, often the only remaining source of income for their families. In 1900, boys accounted for one-sixth of the anthracite coal work force. Read a firsthand account of the breaker boys' work.

 

Barnesville Mine: 1908

Barnesville Mine: 1908

"Drivers and Trappers Going Home." Barnesville Mine, Fairmont, West Virginia. October 1908. View full size. Photograph by Lewis Wickes Hine. Note oil-wick lamps on the hats, and lunch pails. Trappers were boys who opened trapdoors to let coal cars pass and then closed them again to maintain proper airflow in the tunnel ventilation system.

One trapper's description of the job, which paid about $1.60 a day:

Trappers were responsible for opening and closing the underground ventilation doors. In those old mines, they had a system of doors between sections to direct the flow of air. Air was supposed to go up the main haulage and back to the fan. So a trapper sat all day by his door with an oil lamp on his cap. There was a "manhole" - a shelter hole in the wall by the track. The motorman would blink his light at me, and I'd throw the switch and open the door for him. Then, I'd jump into the manway until he was past, and run out and close the door. A trip would come along about every hour. Was I bored or lonely? Well, it was my job.

 
 
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.

Syndicate content RSS | Contact Us | Privacy Policy | Photo Use | © 2014 Shorpy Inc.