Santa Claus is one of the most popular and recognizable figures surrounding the Christmas season. He brings us gifts and inspires imagination, so what’s not to love? While he may bring joy to young and old alike, he can also be a bit frightful. We all know the scene in the mall of upset children getting their photos taken with St. Nick.
The Internet is full of websites featuring awkward photographs of the man in the big red suit, and the Library of Congress has some in its collections as well. For example, this photo, dated 1897, features a ghostly Santa standing over a woman and child while they sleep.
The image is a stereograph, which consists of two nearly identical photographs or photomechanical prints, paired to produce the illusion of a single three-dimensional image, usually when viewed through a stereoscope. The Prints and Photographs Division’s holdings include images produced from the 1850s to the 1940s, with the bulk of the collection dating between 1870 and 1920.
Searching for “Santa Claus” in the Library’s stereograph collection pulls a few other interesting finds you don’t want to miss.
More historical holiday fun from the Library of Congress can be found here. Happy Holidays!