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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.

 
 
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VINTAGRAPH • WPA • WWII • CARNIVAL OF THE ARTS, 1937

Mining

Great-Grandpa was a PA coal miner

Great-Grandpa was a PA coal miner

Miners from near Hazleton, PA. Exact year unknown (probably early 1900s). My great-grandfather is the bottom-left miner. View full size.

Where the Sun Never Shines: 1908

Where the Sun Never Shines: 1908

October 1908. "Drivers in a West Virginia Coal Mine. Plenty boys driving and on tipple." Photograph and caption by Lewis Wickes Hine. View full size.

 

Carr Fork Canyon: 1942

Carr Fork Canyon: 1942

Carr Fork Canyon as seen from the "G" Bridge, Bingham Copper Mine, Utah. Nov. 1942. View full size. 4x5 Kodachrome transparency by Andreas Feininger.

 

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.

 
 
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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.

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