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March on Washington, 1963: Many New Photographs Digitized

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The following is a guest post by Helena Zinkham, Chief, Prints & Photographs Division.

The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom was a landmark Civil Rights demonstration held on August 28, 1963 in Washington, DC. We have photographs in many collections that document this famous event. But the U.S. News & World Report Collection (USN&WR) offers the most extensive coverage—some 1,500 negatives from more than 50 rolls of 35mm film.

[Demonstrators marching in the street holding signs during the March on Washington, 1963]
This photograph was the lead image in the USN&WR article “The March—Gains and Losses” (Sept. 9, 1963). Photo by Marion S. Trikosko, Aug. 28, 1963, Roll 10347, frame 22.
[Demonstrators marching in the street holding signs during the March on Washington, 1963]
In her his [update, 9/12/13] unpublished photograph (the next frame after the published image at left), Trikosko captured a different mix of people from the ground up, Aug. 28, 1963, Roll 10347, frame 23.

It’s often useful, in fact essential for historical research, to see what transpired before and after a published picture. So, to broaden the Library’s representation of the March on Washington, we digitized more than 30 USN&WR contact sheets in their entirety.

The magazine’s staff photographers covered the day from start to finish—the chief photographer, Thomas J. O’Halloran along with Warren K. Leffler and Marion S. Trikosko. Thanks to the generosity of the U.S. News & World Report organization, there are no known copyright restrictions on the use of photos  taken by USNWR staff photographers.

Please let us know how you find the contact sheets helpful!

Civil Rights March on Washington, D.C.
This “contact sheet” represents both of the images shown above, along with the other 35 images on the same roll of film. The photo published by USN&WR is marked as “F-1” (frame 22).

P.S.  Do you recognize the initials “WHF”?  One photographer present that day is unidentified — known only by the initials “WHF” typed on the contact sheet envelopes.  He or she took 10 rolls of film at the March, which became part of the USN&WR Collection. (The USN&WR organization is already being consulted. So far, no record of the photographer’s name has turned up.)

Civil Rights March on Washington, D.C. Scenes at the Lincoln Memorial
Examples of photographs taken by “WHF” include this contact sheet from film roll LC-U9-10371.

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Comments (2)

  1. You are also no doubt aware of the related collection at the Washington Public Library.

    Hidden Gem at Washington D.C. Public library documents local history

  2. Thanks for the interesting blog and the nifty example of frames 22 and 23. For folks whose sense of photography is purely digital, it will be instructive to see examples of photographic film and to notice the forensic opportunities that frame numbering offers. As you know, many users of Prints and Photographs Division collections have long benefited from the “Browse neighboring items by call number” link on your catalog record displays. When researchers follow this link, they can see the “next picture over,” often as found in your files of photographic negatives. This can be very helpful when you are playing detective.

    The following gets a little complicated but I cannot resist passing along this piece of arcana, please forgive!! In collections like the Farm Security Administration photographs (, many of the images come from strips of 35mm roll film. Each strip carries from four to six negatives. Researchers can use this information to determine the shooting sequence for the images on the strip, just as you did with Marion S. Trikosko’s photos of the March. Sometimes careful examination of larger sets can permit researchers to puzzle out which strips made up the bigger segments in the original roll of film.

    Here’s an example. In 1940, Russell Lee took a picture of a motorcyclist in Vale, Oregon; see catalog record and note the listed negative call number of LC-USF33-013094-M1. If you “Browse neighboring items by call number” you can see that the next image shows two boys in a greased pig race. Backtrack by clicking on the title and you land on the catalog record, which reports call number LC-USF33-013094-M2. Since both negative call numbers have the same digits, you know it is the same strip of film. The incrementation of the “M” number from 1 to 2 tells you the shooting sequence.

    I used to work at the American Folklife Center here at the Library of Congress, and ten or fifteen years ago we put a collection online that presented contact sheets for black and white imagery and an equivalent for same-roll-sets of color slides. This collection pertains to the Omaha Indians in Nebraska (, with pictures and sounds, recent and old. The online presentation includes a number of selected high resolution scans one at a time, but we also wanted to show _all_ of the photos in this collection, even at moderate resolution. Hence we provide black and white contact sheets like this one,, and color slide sets like this one, Click on the thumbnails to enlarge, natch.

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