Okay, I admit it. California-born and raised, I begin to shiver when the temperature dips much below 40 degrees, as it has this past week in Washington, D.C. That’s probably why my eye was drawn to this photo, which reference librarian Jon Eaker added to our “Caught Our Eyes” staff sharing wall.
Snow, Washington, D.C. Photo by Harris & Ewing, between 1915 and 1923. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/hec.29883
Although it eloquently communicates wintry conditions, we know very little about the photo. It’s from the glass negatives produced by the Harris & Ewing firm, which was based in Washington, D.C., and focused on local happenings. And from the glimpse of city in the background, it was probably taken in Washington, D.C. But where? And when? Was it in the wake of a big snowfall? Or–given the seeming lack of snow surrounding this igloo-like pile–is it demonstrating particularly efficient snow clearing?
I tried one of our favorite methods of searching for clues–I used the “browse neighboring images” feature in the Prints & Photographs Online Catalog to look at Harris & Ewing negatives that are numbered and filed close to this one. But, other than some icicles and wintry street scene, it didn’t yield any epiphanies.
Selecting “Browse neighboring images by call number” from the description of the snow photo yields this display.
We invite you to look for clues — or (as I did) simply to fantasize about how you would make this snow structure cozy on a cold day!
The following is a guest post by Eric Peich, Archivist, and Hanna Soltys, Reference Librarian, Prints & Photographs Division. We’re pleased to feature it as part of our new “Ready for Research” blog series, which highlights collections moving out of the backlog. The recent hiring of new staff is helping us organize and describe more […]
The Prints & Photographs Division regularly receives questions about how to find pictures related to the Great Migration – when millions of African Americans, many of whom lived in the rural American South, permanently relocated to cities to the north and west. These individuals had many reasons for leaving their homes, but they were spurred […]
This photo has caught many pairs of eyes around here. Look closely and you’ll no doubt deduce why. Reference librarian Melissa, who added it to our sharing wall, noted that, at first glance, she thought the megaphone-wielding woman was standing on an edifice of very narrow bricks. But no, it’s…books! My first thought, likely influenced […]
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The oftentimes heartbreaking photos taken by Lewis Hine for the National Child Labor Committee from 1908 to 1924 demand we look more closely at the faces of young laborers and the conditions under which they worked, such as this young spinner in a Georgia cotton mill: The photos’ impact continues to this day, adding a […]