Tag Archives: photography

The Mystery Man Who Spent 20 Years Photographing North American Buildings

10 Jul
Grand Forks, North Dakota, May 1990.

Grand Forks, North Dakota, May 1990.

In May of 1982, Barry Gfeller left his home in Camas, Washington,* got into his car, and began to drive.

His plan was similar to eight previous road trips he’d already taken, and 14 more he would embark on in the years to come: to photograph the streets and buildings of towns across the United States and Canada. For nearly two decades, Gfeller would periodically hit the road to continue what became a mammoth photographic survey. In May 1982 alone, he photographed over 200 towns, traveling as far north as Edmonton and as far east as Milwaukee. When Gfeller died in 1999, his collection—which he arranged alphabetically, stored in long wooden boxes—consisted of 50,000 prints and negatives.

“Ultimately, Gfeller drove over 100,000 miles across 44 states and six Canadian provinces between 1977 and 1996,” says Mike O’Neill, a political strategist who first learned about Gfeller in 2016. After Gfeller died, the collection made its way from his estate to a Canadian charity. Sixteen years later, the charity asked O’Neill to help find a buyer who could donate the work to a museum. They didn’t have to look far. Fascinated, O’Neill purchased the collection himself in 2017. He’s now begun to digitize the prints, and is searching for a long-term home for Gfeller’s archive.

So begins Anika Burgess’s fascinating post about Barry Gfeller the photographer. You may read the rest of story, with sample photographs, at Atlas Obscura here.

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Women at Work in the 1950s

27 Mar

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In celebration of Women’s History Month and with the rousing collective movement for women’s rights and empowerment which has been reignited over the last year, it seems fitting to look back on past recognition of women for their achievements as both a mark of progress and means of appreciation for those that worked to pave a path toward equality and justice.

So begins Laney Stevenson’s post of National Archives photographs of women at work in the 1950s. For the entire post, see here.

Rare Photo of Harriet Tubman Preserved for Future Generations

6 Mar

A remarkable photo album brought two major institutions together to restore and preserve an important piece of American history. Today, the album is available for the first time online.

The small, leather-bound album shows the signs of its age: broken in places, barely holding together in others, scuffed but somehow still elegant after a century and a half of use.

If time has taken a toll on the album, the photographs inside—placed there by a school teacher so long ago—are timeless and extraordinary.

Tucked into the album’s last page is a previously unknown photo of one of American history’s great figures: abolitionist Harriet Tubman, in what’s believed to be the earliest photo of her in existence.

Turning back a dozen pages reveals another treasure: the only known photo of John Willis Menard, the first African-American elected to Congress.

The album, and the one-of-a-kind photos it holds, were jointly acquired last year by the Library of Congress and the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture in a most-unusual collaboration between two public institutions. Together, they worked to conserve the album for future generations and make it accessible to the public.

So begins Mark Hartsell’s post at the Library of Congress. You may read the rest of the post, with its illustrations, here.

How Photographers Captured the Incarceration of Japanese Americans During WWII

31 Jan

San Francisco, California, April 25, 1942.

Photographer Toyo Miyatake was 14 when he arrived in America in 1909, and 46 when he was forcibly moved from his home in Los Angeles to the Manzanar incarceration camp. By then, he was a father of four and owner of a photo studio. As he and his family gathered their belongings—whatever they could carry—he grabbed a few items that were considered contraband: a lens, a shutter, and film holders.

So begins Anika Burgess’s account of an exhibition of photographs of the relocation and control of Japanese Americans during World War II. You may read the rest of the post, with selected photographs, here.

 

 

Meet Buster, the rooster who can skate

20 Oct

A rooster named Buster roller skates and ice skates. See the 1952 photos and hear the story by the then-photographer of the LA Times: From the Archives: Meet Buster, the rooster who can skate – LA Times

In 100 years, will today’s digital files be accessible? Planning for ‘digital obsolescence’

19 Aug

Are you planning ahead for accessing what has been digitized? Here’s some material to help you think about this: In 100 years, will today’s digital files be accessible? Planning for ‘digital obsolescence’ | St. Louis Public Radio

Oldest Surviving Photograph of a U.S. President Has Surfaced

19 Aug

The 1843 daguerreotype of John Quincy Adams was discovered by a descendant of Vermont Representative Horace Everett. It is the oldest surviving photograph of a U.S. President, as noted here at the Smithsonian: Oldest Surviving Photograph of a U.S. President Has Surfaced | Smart News | Smithsonian

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