Library of Congress and the New Farm Security Administration Depression Era Photograph Scans

Farmer and Daughter

I read a great post from the Library of Congress last week ( about its new collection of about 45,000 Great Depression-era photograph scans in the Farm Security Administration (FSA) collection.

The call number code for this collection is USF33, so going to will take you to a full list. And of course once you’re there you can add other search terms.

I added the keyword contest to the search and got my list winnowed down to 142 results, with pictures of all kinds from all kinds of contests including corn-shucking, barrel rolling, top spinning, pie eating, goat roping, and burro loading. The result list includes a thumbnail that seems a bit on the small side, but that’s made up for with the thorough titles of the pictures and a little information about the date of the photograph and the photographer.

Click on a listing and additional details you’ll get will include rights information (I think this collection is pretty much freely available), call number, subject, and notes. You can also download the picture in larger formats — anything from smallish JPGs to TIFs over 10MB in size.

I loved this collection. So many of the shots are candid and it’s easy to tell the photographers had a true warmth for the subjects in the pictures. If you want to start off your exploration with some fun, add the word “wager” to your search for USF33. You’ll find a very funny series of images.

Artamonoff Collection Shows Istanbul and Western Turkey In Photographs, 1935-1945

This collection is a bit too small to be one I’d normally cover, but when Harvard announced it last week I found the pictures to be compelling, and wanted to make sure you knew about it. The new collection is called the Nicholas V. Artamonoff Collection, and it features 543 photos taken by Artamonoff between 1935 and 1945, at sites (archaelogical sites, and ruins) in Istanbul and western Turkey. The collection is available at

The photographs can be browsed in toto, via a map, via a tag cloud, or with a keyword search. I looked at the tag cloud and chose brickwork, for which I got 61 results.

The pictures are presented in a grid with location, thumbnail, and brief description. The individual item pages show larger pictures (but I wish they could be larger, I feel like I missed a lot of detail), date taken, more extensive description, and in many places a Google Map so you can get an idea of what the area looks like now. The announcement of this collection notes that a lot of these sites and monuments have fallen into disrepair or have vanished completely.

In addition to the photographs, there is also a biography of the photographer and a list of sites where the pictures were taken.

I have no idea why these images resonate with me so much. They seem almost haunted, but at the same time they occupy a landscape that is determined to be ordinary (note the imposing exterior of the St. Mary Pammakaristos, before its restoration, with what looks like a string of laundry in the foreground. I’m not much of a critic in these matters but I think it might also be that Artamonoff was a pretty damn good photographer — he was able to take both detailed and long-range pictures without losing any context.

The collection is small enough to browse; if the images themselves were larger this collection would be absolutely incredible. As it is it is well worth a visit if you’re at all interested in history or archaelogy.

Gemini Spacecraft Digital Archive Now Available

Arizona State University announced last week the launch (no pun intended) of the new Project Gemini Online Digital Archive, an online archive of NASA’s Gemini spacecraft flights. (From the announcement: “Project Gemini (1964-1966) was the second United States human spaceflight program, after Project Mercury (1960-1963). The overarching goal was to test systems and operations critical to the Apollo program (1961-1975), conceived with the purpose of ‘landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to the Earth’.” The archive is available at

from the front page you’ll see that there’s already an archive for Project Mercury. The Gemini gallery is divided by each of the ten missions, from Gemini III to Gemini XII. I looked at the Gemini VII archive. The pictures here were presented in a slideshow, black and white pictures first. Most of the pictures were shots of Earth, some with captions (“India, Madras State, Ceylon, Adam’s Bridge, Palk Straits”) and some without. All of them had downloads available, from low resolution to the raw image (the one I downloaded was a 58MB .TIF)

If you look at the top nav bar for the image gallery, you’ll see a pulldown menu called Gemini. This menu will give you background on the missions, information about the images and how they were processed, and a short list of more resources about the Gemini missions. There’s also a link to a page of “movies” — highlights of the best pictures from each mission made into Quicktime movies. This is probably the best way to get all the image highlights.

Unless you know a lot more about astronomy than I do, start with the background and the movies before going in for an archive browse. A great collection but I needed more context to get started enjoying it.

New Online Photo Collection Shows Delaware in the 1920s and 1930s

Two Guys, One Huge Fish
Two Guys, One Huge Fish

The state of Delaware has announced a new online photo collection — over 2000 images of Delaware in the 1920s and 1930s, taken from the state’s Board of Agriculture glass negative collection. The collection is available here (giant messy URL alert.)

These pictures are wonderfully random. Stones marking the corners of Delaware? Check. Shipment of chickens going to Argentina? Check. All kinds of buildings? Check. Two guys holding a huge fish? Check. Electrical meter from 1936? Check. Tomato inspection shed? Check.

(Some of the items are also NOT for young audiences. There are also several murder scene pictures here and at least one image of a corpse. Please use caution when visiting this site and don’t let your kids/students run around in it without supervision.)

Hold your mouse over a picture for a tool tip with further description and a date. When you click on a picture to look at it more closely, it shows up full size, and you can shrink it or pan around to see the whole thing. This is unusual but useful as many of the pictures are landscape pictures, and this is an easy way to quickly see details. While looking at the detail page you can also rotate the images, print them, or download them in a few different sizes. (Note that the Delaware Public Archives does claim rights for these pictures and written permission is required to reuse them, which might be why they’re not in Flickr Commons.)

Auto racing at the Delaware fair
Auto racing at the Delaware fair

You can do a simple keyword search or an advanced search that lets you do field-level searching. A search for fair found 30 results, including lots of images and a couple of fantastic pictures of fair auto races from 1933.

A good presentation and it isn’t often you get such a large collection devoted solely to Delaware. Just use caution when browsing. Especially when it’s, like, 6am and you haven’t even had your coffee yet.

Library of Congress Posts Civil War Portrait Collection to Flickr

The Library of Congress announced last week that it has made a huge collection of Civil War portraits available on its Flickr site. The portraits — almost 700 of them — are available at

This collection is all from one place — the Liljenquist family — and includes the frames of the pictures as well as the ambrotype and tintype photographs themselves. Many of the pictures are soldiers (including some portraits of African-American soldiers) but there are some civilian pictures here as well. There are also many group pictures, both of civilians and soldiers.

Some of the pictures are fairly dark and hard to see — or maybe it’s my monitor. If you want more detailed images than are available at Flickr, you can go back to and download archival-quality TIFFs, though they are a slow download. I downloaded one of 84MB and one of 116MB.

A remarkable collection, but also depressing in a way… the soldiers all look so young