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Providing Context with Chronicling America

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My initial impression of the jovial sailors pictured below was that a letter “d” must have been left out of the annotated title in the photograph’s upper left corner. This World War I era photo from the Bain News Service is one of more than 15,000 photographs (a hefty subset of the 40,000 available from the Prints & Photographs Online Catalog) which have been added in installments to the Library of Congress photostream on photo-sharing site Flickr. After following the link to this photo’s page within Flickr, I see that member Art Siegel provides historical context by citing four May 1917 newspaper articles that mention the French ship Amiral Aube. Even the hand-standing sailor was something of a minor celebrity in his day.

Photograph shows sailors on the French cruiser Amiral Aube which as docked at Pier 9 (Rector and West Streets) on the Hudson River, New York City, May, 1917. (Source: Flickr Commons project, 2015)
On AMIRAL AUBE, Pier 9, New York City. Photograph published by Bain News Service, May 5, 1917. http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/ggbain.24306 View the photo in Flickr.

Siegel’s four citations are drawn from Chronicling America, which is bringing web access to America’s historic newspapers from 1836-1922. This joint effort that partners the National Endowment for the Humanities with the Library of Congress is celebrating a major milestone as it has now posted 10 million newspaper pages! Chronicling America is a valuable resource for historic research of U.S. events major and minor just a few keystrokes and mouse clicks away.

Following the links to the Flickr pages for the side-by-side photos below shows that Chronicling America was used again to shed light on the horse, the nurse, and the wounded serviceman pictured on the left as well the seated woman with the feathered fan seen on the right. Whatever could have brought these four together in 1917?

Alice Wilson & Gordon Gray, New York City. Photograph published by Bain News Service, [1917].
Alice Wilson & Gordon Gray, New York City. Photograph published by Bain News Service, [1917]. http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/ggbain.24504 View the photo in Flickr.
Photograph shows Mrs. J. Stuart Blackton (formerly Paula Hilburn) at a fundraising benefit she organized at the Hotel des Artistes, New York City, for the Stage Women's War Relief, May 28, 1917. Mrs. Blackton, an actress and film producer, was married to film director J. Stuart Blackton. (Source: Flickr Commons project, 2015 and New-York Tribune, May 27, 1917)
Mrs. J.S. Blackton, New York City. Photograph published by Bain News Service, May 28, 1917. http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/ggbain.24506 View the photo in Flickr.

Learn More:

  • Read about Chronicling America, which provides 10 million pages (and counting) to America’s historic newspaper pages from 1836-1922.
  • View more of the George Grantham Bain Collection, the photographic files of one of America’s earliest news picture agencies, with an emphasis on life in New York City during the first quarter of the 20th century.
  • Survey the variety of albums available through the Library of Congress Flickr account, and learn more about our Flickr project.

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