On the beach at Coney Island, 1902.
Sunshine, long days, trips to the mountains or beaches—we’re now well into the season many people anticipate long in advance of its arrival. A quick online search of the Library’s prints and photographs reveals that enthusiasm for the lazy days of summer is nothing new: the term “summer” elicits thousands of images dating from as long ago as the 18th century.
We’re featuring one such image, a 1902 view of the beach on Coney Island, intermittently on our home page this month. It shows a large crowd of children and adults—wearing significantly more attire than is the norm for beach-goers today—enjoying the sand and sun. Although the richly colored picture looks like a photograph, it is actually an ink-based photolithograph—or photochrom print.
The Library has more than 400 photochrom prints of sites in the United States—and thousands more of locations in Europe, the Middle East and elsewhere. Hans Jakob Schmid (1856–1924), working for the Swiss firm Orell Füssli, invented the technique for making photochrom prints in the 1880s. It involves the direct photographic transfer of an original negative onto litho- and chromographic printing plates.
Even though the prints look deceptively like color photographs, when viewed with a magnifying glass, the small dots that make up the ink-based photomechanical image are visible. The photomechanical process permitted mass production of the vivid color prints. At a time when color photography was still rare, demand for them was high. Monochromatic prints were also issued, including a view of Pikes Peak in Colorado.
Pikes Peak, a monochromatic photochrom print.
Photochrom prints were sold at tourist sites and through mail order catalogs to globe trotters, armchair travelers, educators and others to preserve in albums or put on display. Produced between the late 1880s well into the 1900s, they reached the height of their popularity in the 1890s and early 1900s.
This post is by Emily Hauck, a summer intern in the Library’s Communications Office. A version of this post was first published in the Library of Congress Gazette. No matter how much you think you know about a topic, there is always more to discover. I found that out during my internship with the Library’s […]
This is a guest post by Ryan Reft, a historian in the Library’s Manuscript Division. Teddy Roosevelt believed in the efficacy of war. For Roosevelt, the call to arms expressed national greatness and bold masculinity. Unsurprisingly, the former president loudly championed America’s entrance into World War I, often assailing President Wilson in the years and […]
This post by Margaret Wagner of the Library’s Publishing Office first appeared on “Teaching with the Library of Congress,” a blog that highlights the Library’s resources for K–12 teachers. Describe what you do at the Library and the materials you work with. I am a senior writer-editor in the Library of Congress Publishing Office, the […]
This is a slightly abbreviated version of a post by Kristi Finefield, a reference librarian in the Prints and Photographs Division, first published on “Picture This,” the division’s blog. Check out Finefield’s original post for even more fantastic photographs of Wyoming by Carol M. Highsmith. Today, we turn our eyes to the wide open spaces […]
This is a guest post by Mark Hartsell, editor of the Library of Congress Gazette. The culture of working is a big part of what makes America America—men and women on the job, growing our food, teaching our children, burying our loved ones, building our homes, doing the things that make our society possible. Over […]
An earlier version of this post, written by Micah Messenheimer, assistant curator of photography in the Prints and Photographs Division, was published on “Picture This,” the division’s blog. A giant coffee pot that doubles as a restaurant, drive-in movie theaters, old gas pumps and vintage hotels: these are but a few of the examples included […]
This is the second of two related guest posts by Cassandra Good, associate editor of the Papers of James Monroe and author of “Founding Friendships: Friendships Between Men and Women in the Early American Republic” (2015), and Susan Holbrook Perdue, director of digital strategies at the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities and adviser to a […]
This is a guest post by Sahr Conway-Lanz, a historian in the Manuscript Division. Former Librarian of Congress James Billington once called the Polish Declarations of Admiration and Friendship for the United States “possibly the largest expression of affection one nation ever made to another.” In 1926, for the 150th anniversary of the birth of […]
This is a guest post by Meg Metcalf, women’s, gender and LGBTQ+ studies librarian in the Main Reading Room. The collections of the Library of Congress tell the rich and diverse story of LGBTQ+ life in America and around the world. To share this story, the Library organized a three-day “pop-up” display from June 8 […]