SHORPY Historic Photo Archive & Fine-Art Prints
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About the Photos

Our holdings include hundreds of glass and film negatives/transparencies that we've scanned ourselves; in addition, many other photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs) in the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) They are adjusted, restored and reworked by your webmaster in accordance with his aesthetic sensibilities before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here. All of these images (including "derivative works") are protected by copyright laws of the United States and other jurisdictions and may not be sold, reproduced or otherwise used for commercial purposes without permission.

© 2019 SHORPY INC.

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Old Man River: 1910

Old Man River: 1910

The sternwheeler City St. Joseph on the Mississippi River circa 1910. "Unloading cotton on the levee. Memphis, Tennessee." 8x10 glass negative. View full size.

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Tote that barge, lift that bale

At the time this photo was taken, my mom was a newborn to a coal miner in Pennsylvania, while in a Conn. copper foundry, my father's dad was toiling in front of a blast furnace 8 to 10 hrs. a day. These were not easy times for most people who had to do the hard labor necessary to support their families. Meanwhile in Memphis, these men were also enduring backbreaking jobs to make a buck. I've heard countless stories of the generations before us who seemed to have performed superhuman feats daily in order to provide for all of us and to build up America. They must be remembered as heroes. We sometimes don't realize the effort involved in turning raw materials into useful products.

Cotton talk

Driving around the South in October you can see what, to some, look like giant loaves of bread sitting at the side of the cotton fields. These are called "Cotton Modules" and are compacted cotton picked by machines waiting to be shipped to the cotton gin. Each module holds approximately 14.5 to 15 bales of cotton. A bale of cotton is said to average around 500 pounds.


I assume that's a bail of cotton? Three men pushing each, how much did they weigh? (not the men)

[More like a bale. "Bail" is for jail. - Dave]

Rollin' On the River

Now we know the true meaning of the phrase.

SHORPY OLD PHOTO ARCHIVE | History in HD is a vintage photo archive featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1960s. (Available as fine-art prints from the Shorpy Archive.) The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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