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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.

[REV 25-NOV-2014]

     Below are three of the four pictures known to exist of our site's namesake, the (very) young Alabama coal miner Shorpy Higginbotham. Scroll to the bottom of the page for more about his life. NEW: Shorpy on Facebook.

Shorpy Higginbotham: 1910

Shorpy Higginbotham: 1910

December 1910. "Shorpy Higginbotham, a 'greaser' on the tipple at Bessie Mine, of the Sloss-Sheffield Steel and Iron Co. in Alabama. Said he was 14 years old, but it is doubtful. Carries two heavy pails of grease, and is often in danger of being run over by the coal cars." 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.
Syndicate content | History in HD is a vintage photography 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. Contact us | Privacy policy | Site © 2019 Shorpy Inc.