Sunday, January 27, 2008

celluloid america

This land is my land is your land is my land
from California to the New York island.
--Lila Downs/Woody Guthrie
Pastures of Plenty/This Land Is My Land

A lot of bloggers, myself included, are all atwitter because the Library of Congress has added thousands of public domain photos to flickr. I haven't looked through all the pages, but I am sure I will. The photographs span the 1910s, and the 1930s - '40s. Not only is there starkly gorgeous photography, but when faced with the America these pictures document, you can't help but reckon with your own sense of what this country is, good or bad, devastating or uplifting.

You can leave notes on the photos too. (The value of this is questionable, because knuckleheads do live among us, and they make many comments, mostly devastating, rarely uplifting.) If you recognize someone as your great aunt's sister, you can leave a message saying so.

I love black and white photography, but it's the color photos that speak to me loudest in this collection.

It's crazy to look through these images, think of where we are now, and see that so few years stand between us and things like horse and buggy transportation. Not 70 years ago, it was permissible to assign fellow Americans to internment camps.

Even the titles of the images tell a story.
Road cut into the barren hills which lead into Emmett, Idaho.

Sugar cane worker and his woman.

Mr. Leatherman, homesteader, coming out of his dugout home.

Set this one in Blytheville, Arkansas, and this would be my family.

Chopping cotton on rented land.


Adrienne said...

I've been pouring over these!!! I love them!

Christie said...

Those are some great pictures. The colors are so great.

Ellen Bloom said...

Wow! Thanks for the link, Carla! These are fascinating photos. My father-in-law worked at Douglas Aircraft during WW II and those pix and so will Larry!

sappmama said...

They're fantastic, no? A person, not me, of course, 'cause I'm so busy, could spend all day going through them.

knititch said...

for me here in denmark they are intriguing.
they are fabulous and the force of human beings as well. i love that.