Welcome to yet another time change! All kinds of new research sources related to photographers or researching photographers were recently announced. In addition, some older sources have been better described. Although we’ve lost an hour, we can all have fun with these, as well as learn – so peruse – and use!
Miscellaneous Images – Notable Sources:
The biggest news in February was that millions of the Smithsonian’s images (nearly 3 million 2D and 3D digital items, and more coming) have become available under the Creative Commons Zero (CC0) license. They can be downloaded, shared, and reused for commercial and noncommercial purposes without fees, or copyright restrictions (but they warn that other rights like publicity or privacy may be not be covered).
Searching the Smithsonian for the term “Georgia,” which comes up in the “All” section, you are given many hits related to the artist Georgia O’Keefe, plus several videos (cotton, Atlanta, Martin L. King, Jimmy Carter, many on Georgia music including the Georgia Tech Glee Club) related to our state of Georgia. Narrowing your search results to the Collections tab, and specifying “Open Access,” several O’Keefe images remain, but we also get bugs (Georgia ulmi), and banknotes from Georgia Savings Bank, but also photographs and prints, and some fun objects and ephemera like the pennant seen above.
A list of over twenty-five Open Access Image Libraries is a great source of photographs, drawings, paintings, etc. to illustrate your research. Check it out.
There are many, many free photographs online by currently working photographers (they say over 110,000 contributing photographers) available in one source. Searching Unsplash is easy and turns up a large number of choices — just be sure to give the photographer credit. I’ve used this source several times in the past few months for various projects. It’s fun to search and use.
What may or may not be freely usable is The Look Magazine Picture Resarch File at the Library of Congress. It holds over 50,000 photographs, primarily from 1935-1970. The Finding Aid has three series: Photographic Prints (in five sub-series: Personalities, Subjects, Archives-Subjects, Archives-Biographical, and Archives-Movie Stars), Oversize materials, and Color Transparencies. Regarding their use, see the Look Magazine Picture Research File Rights and Restrictions Information. Read about some of the fascinating subjects available for study (WWI, advertising, etc.) and how to search the collection, in this Library of Congress blog post Ready for Research: Look Magazine Picture Research File.
The Historical Films of the U.S. Army Signal Corps digitization project (over 400 reels of film) at the National Archives, was recently finished. All films are from one record group (RG 111). The project features footage captured by the U.S. Army Signal Corps as early as 1914, and WWI footage includes both American and German film. Some of the film clips from this project have even been made into GIFs, like the first four on this page, starting with this Artillery WWI film clip.
Speaking of the National Archives, I’ve mentioned photographs of activities of the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) before in a 2016 Tuesday Tips. At the end of this past year, the National Archives focused on their collection of images documenting the CCC. The 87th anniversary of that program, which began on April 5, 1933, is fast approaching. It was one of the earliest of the New Deal programs, employing about 2 to 3 million young men during its nine years. See this National Archives post for hints on searching the records, and obtaining them.
News and Updates on “Photographers Working in the South”:
Alabama: In 1956, two years after the U.S. Supreme Court outlawed segregation with the Brown v. Board of Education decision, “Life magazine editors sent Gordon Parks—the first African American photographer to join the magazine’s staff—to the town of Shady Grove, Alabama. His assignment was to photograph a community still in stasis, where “separate but equal” still reigned.” Read this very good Arts.net article about the resulting photographs.
The Scarboro Photo Collection, at the Gadsden Public Library, is a part of the online source, Alabama Mosaic. The Scarboro Collection contains over 15,000 photographs taken and compiled by Robert (Bobby) Scarboro, who had a long career as “one of Gadsden’s most popular photographers.” Over 4,300 images from this collection are now digitized and available, although I cannot find the dates of coverage anywhere on either site.
Every so often, when I am in a site not covering our state specifically, I search for the term “Georgia.” Searching the website of the Metropolitan Museum of Art for the term resulted in forty-five (45) hits. Of those, eight are not truly [the state of] Georgia, which brings the total of valid hits to thirty-seven (37). Most date from the 1860, and are Civil War era, and a few date from the post-war period. But — I have discovered there are more “Georgia” images in their collection that did not turn up. “Keep looking” should be our motto!
Texas: The Texas Digital Archive is a valuable online resource of historical materials relating to Texas political, genealogical, and military life. It also holds images made by Texas photographers including Frank E. Beach of Lampasas, Texas, and the Star Gallery in Burnet, Texas; Fannie Ratchford; George Robertson; Hughes and Lane of Batson, Texas; author Owen Wister’s Texas ranch scenes; and various other photographers. Links to finding aids and to the images in the collections provide the necessary information.
Virginia: The Library of Congress holds a large collection of images by Frances Benjamin Johnston, including those she made at Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute (now Hampton University), in December 1899 and January 1900. She also shot photographs in the vicinity of Hampton, Virginia. The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) has a set of 159 of these images, but not those made in the Hampton area. Read about both collections in this Library of Congress post, with many links to Johnston materials.
News about Maps:
Georgia: In February, the Digital Library of Georgia (DLG) added the Sanborn fire insurance maps for 39 Georgia towns and cities in 35 counties, 1923-1941. This is an addition to a collection of 539 Sanborn maps, 1884-1922, available online since 2005. With this addition, there is now improved navigation to all the online Sanborn maps of Georgia cities.
If you are trying to understand when Georgia county names and/or boundaries changed, try an Interactive Map of Georgia County Formation History. Ignore the advertisements, and it is very useful!
USA: The National Archives has a post on Researching Aerial Photography of the United States which describes use of the images available in the Cartographic Branch, which holds aerial imagery from around the word. Those aerials covering the United States, specifically, Record Group (RG) 145 imagery, are described with search methods to use. It highlights using a finding aid called “Special List 25, which is arranged by state and county, and lists aerial coverage, and coverage years.
For historical maps of the United States, the Perry-Castañeda Map Collection at the University of Texas Library is a great source with which you may not be familiar. Try it out.
News about Georgia Newspapapers and City Directories:
When I’m researching a particular photographer, newspapers are an excellent source to use to track their movements from one town to another, see all their advertisements, read about their marriage or divorce, and death. Another source I constantly use are Georgia and other states’ city directories. It’s another way of tracking a photographer’s moves around the state, or states, and for finding family members who may have worked with their relative.
Available via the Dougherty County Public Library, and now on DLG, are the city directories for Albany, Georgia, 1922-1950. There are eleven directories covering intermittent years from 1922 to 1950, and there is one 1937 directory from Americus, Georgia. You can find someone’s occupation, business address, residence, spouse, relatives, the churches, schools, etc. via these city directories. They are such a valuable research source!
A listing of the Georgia Historic Newspapers, updated for Winter 2020, includes new titles added to the Digital Library of Georgia’s Historic Newspapers site. These new DLG titles are from the big cities (Atlanta, Augusta, Columbus, Macon, Savannah), but also from the smaller cities (Bainbridge, Buena Vista, Calhoun, Cartersville, Eastman, Gainesville, and others).
I hope you found something here that is either interesting or fun, and I hope it is both. Stay tuned to Hunting & Gathering for another March post because it’s time to focus on the women in Georgia photography. I’ve heard from several readers lately, so another “R&R,” a Readers and Research post, is coming in April. Here’s to a wonderful Spring!
© E. Lee Eltzroth and Hunting & Gathering, 2019. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material, without written permission from this blog’s author is prohibited. The piece can be re-blogged, and excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to E. Lee Eltzroth and Hunting & Gathering, with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.