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Lincoln statue, view from above. Lincoln Memorial, West Potomac Park, Washington, District of Columbia, DC. Photo by Dana Lockett, 25 April 1995. http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/hhh.dc0472/photos.029183p

People in HABS/HAER/HALS

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The following is a guest post by Ryan Brubacher, Reference Specialist, Prints & Photographs Division.

While chatting with a colleague some time ago, we realized our overlapping interest in finding faces in what the Prints & Photographs Division calls the HABS/HAER/HALS (Historic American Buildings Survey, Historic American Engineering Record, Historic American Landscapes Survey). She shared the photographs she was finding of buildings with facial features in a post last month, while I focused on the rare instances of actual people caught on camera in this collection, one that is notably devoid of humans in the frame. It is tricky to spot them, but ultimately thrilling when you do.

Staff who work on HABS/HAER/HALS surveys are the folks most frequently depicted. Whether appearing for scale or holding a scale device, they often show up in surveys of monumental structures. They usually attempt to be unobtrusive, but sometimes a sense of humor comes through, like these examples from the Lincoln Memorial survey.

Detail of interior column capital (from below). Lincoln Memorial, West Potomac Park, Washington, District of Columbia, DC. Photo by Mark Schara, 28 September 1992. http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/hhh.dc0472/photos.029107p
Lincoln statue, north view, detail. Lincoln Memorial, West Potomac Park, Washington, District of Columbia, DC. Photo by Mark Schara, 14 March 1995. http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/hhh.dc0472/photos.029176p

This photo is a rare treat, as we see the photographer himself, Jet Lowe, taking the image with a shutter release in his right hand:

Detail of south cornice (corner antefix). Lincoln Memorial, West Potomac Park, Washington, District of Columbia, DC. Photo by Jet Lowe, 13 April 1992. http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/hhh.dc0472/photos.029055p
GENERAL VIEW OF THE SHOP INTERIOR SHOWS EQUIPMENT. – Keyser Brothers Iron Works, 4041 Ridge Avenue, Philadelphia, Philadelphia County, PA. Photo by Jack E. Boucher, November 1971. http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/hhh.pa1057/photos.136597p

In addition to HABS/HAER/HALS staff, workers and laborers are depicted. Their presence often tells a story about how workspaces are used, like in these photographs of an ironworks facility:

BLACKSMITH KEYSER AT FORGE, WITH SPARKS. – Keyser Brothers Iron Works, 4041 Ridge Avenue, Philadelphia, Philadelphia County, PA. Photo by Jack E. Boucher, November 1971. http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/hhh.pa1057/photos.136608p

Because people are rarely the focus of these images, I was delighted to find this view of beachgoers in Miami, where they are depicted front and center.

LUMMUS PARK, 10TH STREET AND OCEAN DRIVE, VIEW OF PEOPLE IN PARK – Miami Beach Art Deco Historic District, Miami, Miami-Dade County, FL. Photo by Walter Smalling, Jr., 1980. http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/hhh.fl0160/photos.052211p

Another category I’ve been keeping tabs on is photographs that show children. A colleague at the National Park Service’s Heritage Documentation Programs office—which creates and manages the HABS/HAER/HALS surveys before they come to the Library of Congress—shares this interest. This selection has some favorites from both of us:

FRONT ELEVATION DETAIL Seen from West – La Rionda Cottage, 1218-1220 Burgundy Street, New Orleans, Orleans Parish, LA. Photo by Richard Koch, 1938. http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/hhh.la0040/photos.072806p
DETAIL OF STONE STEPS WITH CHILDREN – Pommer-Gentner House, 108 Market Street, Hermann, Gasconade County, MO. Photo by Piaget-van Ravenswaay, 1936. http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/hhh.mo0337/photos.095474p
SIDE VIEW OF HOUSE. (SOUTH) – Dr. C. W. Daugette House, 603 North Pelham Road, Jacksonville, Calhoun County, AL. Photo by W. N. Manning, January 4, 1935. http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/hhh.al0051/photos.007796p

My very favorite photo in this category is the one below, because the human is so hard to find. Little ones show up in two more from this survey as well!

EAST (FRONT) ELEVATION FROM NORTHEAST. – Faber House, 631 East Bay Street, Charleston, Charleston County, SC. Photo by Jack E. Boucher, 1958. http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/hhh.sc0131/photos.147549p

A cropped version of the photo above reveals the child’s hiding place!

Detail of EAST (FRONT) ELEVATION FROM NORTHEAST. – Faber House, 631 East Bay Street, Charleston, Charleston County, SC. Photo by Jack E. Boucher, 1958. http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/hhh.sc0131/photos.147549p

 

Try your hand at looking for people (and animals) in HABS/HAER/HALS, such as this example.

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