Books and other texts can link us intellectually to the past but photographs and films of other eras take us into those past moments. Photographs from 1911 are not exactly rare but they are precious. Film showing motion was only just becoming more available in 1911 so a film of New York City in that year is a very special resource. A Swedish documentary film company sought to document the most celebrated sites in the world at that time. Look here to see its film of a New York street scene in 1911.
There are no films of Mount Prospect in 1911. The town was only just beginning to make a name for itself at that time. There are some photographs of the people and a business, however. Go to the Illinois Digital Archives to see children of Louis F. Busse and workers at the Wille Brothers Company in photographs taken around 1911. The original photographs are in the collection of the Mount Prospect Historical Society.
Scanning all kinds of material has become a common task thanks to the availability of devices like Flip-Pal and special phone apps like Pic Scanner for iphones or Google PhotoScan for android phones. But what do you do with a book that is nearly 6 feet by 7 1/2 feet when opened? The British Library recently faced this challenge when it digitized its copy of the 1660 Klencke Atlas, one of the world’s largest books. The library made a video of the process available on YouTube recently. The Klencke Atlas contains 41 wall-sized, extremely rare maps. These maps reveal what Dutch cartographers knew about the world during the High Renaissance period. The public domain images of the atlas are part of the British Library’s Picturing Places online resource.
If you are looking for a digitized collection of items closer to home, go the the MPPL digital collection Dimensions of Life in Mount Prospect. This collection includes an image of an 1873 map of Mount Prospect.
The stories of our families are told through many forms of documents. Family photographs, however, are unique because they have visually captured moments in time that now only live as memories. A discarded photograph album lead a writer in New York to the story of black families that lived in the Crown Heights neighborhood of New York City during the middle of the 20th Century. This writer, Anne Correal, describes the journey she undertook to discover whose photographs they were and how the album was left forsaken on the street. Her article “Love and Black Lives, in Pictures Found on a Brooklyn Street” appeared in the New York Times in January 2017. It traces the paths that many African American families took from the Deep South to the North in an event known as the Great Migration. Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration by Isabel Wilkerson is a book in the Library’s collection which also illuminates this event in American history. There are now also other books and videos on display in the Library which document African American history. If you are interested in learning more about your own family’s history and managing your own family photographic collections, come talk to our Research Services staff who will help you get started.
In response to the economic turmoil of the Great Depression, President Franklin Roosevelt called for the creation of several assistance agencies. One of these was the Resettlement Administration (RA) created in 1935. The Farm Security Administration (FSA) was created out of the RA in 1937. This agency was formed to help struggling farmers and sharecroppers. It’s historical section was headed by Roy Stryker. He organized a team of photographers who documented hardships across the country, especially in the Midwest and California. Many of the black and white images they created such as Dorothea Lange’s “Migrant Mother” are well known. Not so familiar are the color photographs that were taken of farmers, workers, and children. In a new book called New Deal Photography, USA 1935-1943 author Peter Walther has created a survey of the work done by the photographers of the FSA. These images vividly show the hard life of many ordinary people during a time of great struggle in America. A few of the images can be seen here. Walther’s book is currently on order at MPPL.
Women have always participated in support work during wartime. This was especially evident during World War I. Women served in a variety of capacities sometimes very close to the front lines. The National Archives holds a vast collection of photographs in its collection of War Department records. You can see several photographs of women at work during World War I in the Unwritten Record Blog prepared by staff at the National Archives.
Chicago’s Field Museum is known for its notable specimens numbering over 24 million. Did you know that the museum also has tens of thousands of photographs in its collection? Many of them are available online at http://fieldmuseum.org/explore/department/library/photo-archives/collections. The photos include scenes from the World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893 and historic photos from Africa, Peru, the South Pacific and the United States. This collection documents the history and architecture of the Museum, its exhibitions, events, staff and scientific expeditions.