Blast from the Past

21 May

When seeking an image for yesterday’s post, I went to the Library of Congress site at Flickr. I needed something old. Something from a past generation. It didn’t take me long to decide where to go. It’s a cool place to visit. There’re all kinds of old photos there. And there’s no restriction against sharing them.

This first image is from the Washington DC Marathon, taken sometime between 1910 and 1915. Before learning that fact, I imagined this caption… “Look! A numbered man running. He must be an escaped prisoner. After him!”

No odd captions for the next image popped to mind. I just like the picture. Apparently it was taken somewhere in Colorado along US 40. Yes, that’s the same US 40 that cuts through Baltimore. It is called the National Road / National Pike, you know.

The kids pictured below? It’s not Louis and Lola. It’s Michel and Edmond Navratil. The picture was taken after the Titanic disaster as they were trying to identify survivors. Their father was killed during the disaster. There was no mention of their mother.

The next one shows “women wipers at a roundhouse.” I know that “roundhouse” is associated with trains, so I guess that means these were ladies responsible for wiping off the trains. I wonder if they just had to do the windows? Or the entire trains? It’s part of a collection called Women Striving Forward, 1910-1940s.

When you have some free time, you should check out the Library of Congress Flickr site. Why does the Library of Congress have a Flickr site?

We serve as the national library for the United States, based in Washington, DC. With more than 142 million items preserved on some 650 miles of bookshelves, we’re also the world’s largest library.

In addition to books, we have photos, maps, databases, movies, sound recordings, sheet music, manuscripts, and information in many other formats. Millions of items are online, and the full array of collections is available in DC, right across from the U.S. Capitol building

What are photographs doing in a library?

We’ve been acquiring photos since the mid-1800s when photography was the hot new technology. Because images represent life and the world so vividly, people have long enjoyed exploring our visual collections. Looking at pictures opens new windows to understanding both the past and the present. Favorite photos are often incorporated in books, TV shows, homework assignments, scholarly articles, family histories, and much more.

The Prints & Photographs Division takes care of 14 million of the Library’s pictures and features more than 1 million through online catalogs. Offering historical photo collections through Flickr is a welcome opportunity to share some of our most popular images more widely.

If you do visit their site, let me know what you think.