Hidden Photographs of a Hidden People
March 10, 2013 12:56 PM   Subscribe

A box of magic lantern slides, owned by a doctor who died in 1940, turned out to hold many images of the Romany Travellers who came to Sussex each year to take part in the hop harvest. The pictures have been published, with commentary by the Romany historian Janet Keet-Black, in the pamphlet Hidden Photographs of a Hidden People (PDF of full pamphlet). You can also watch a slideshow which includes more images and interviews with Keet-Black, magic lantern expert Peter Gillies and the Romany Traveller Penfold sisters.

Dr Habberton Lulham, who owned the slides and may have taken some of them, was also a poet and some of his work is available at Archive.org.

Frank Hinkins, another of the photographers, also wrote Romany life: experienced and observed during many years of friendly intercourse with the Gypsies. It was published in 1915, under the name Frank Cuttriss, and is also available freely online, including many more photographs. Chapter One includes the following, painfully unprescient line:
Nowadays it is somewhat difficult to realise that, formerly, because a people or a class were not understood, those who were in power should, for no other reason, become obsessed with the insane idea of annihilating them.
Bonus material: Note: a lot of this material, including that produced by Romany Travellers themselves, uses the word gypsy to describe them. We've previously discussed that when used by non-Roma/Romany/Travellers, this can be seen as a slur, so I've tried to avoid it in this post.
posted by daisyk (7 comments total) 29 users marked this as a favorite
This is brilliant. What an amazing find those photos were. Thanks for posting them.
posted by Joe in Australia at 1:47 PM on March 10, 2013

There seems to be a far greater acceptance of Romany/Travellers in the UK than in continental Europe. Fascinating post.
posted by mumimor at 2:09 PM on March 10, 2013

Lovely post, I grew up in Sussex so it's fascinating to see these photographs.
posted by ellieBOA at 2:32 PM on March 10, 2013

Thanks for this post! I just finished Smoke in the Lanes last week, and as much as I enjoyed Beshlie's illustrations, I wished for photos because there were so many interesting details.
posted by peagood at 3:36 PM on March 10, 2013

Thanks for the link, peagood. Smoke in the Lanes looks like a very interesting book.

My mum's family are from Sussex too and I stumbled on the pictures after making this comment over on AskMe, about a bit of family lore.
posted by daisyk at 3:48 PM on March 10, 2013

What a wonderfully detailed post, thanks for putting it together daisyk. I will spend a lot of time going through this material.
posted by sophieblue at 4:28 PM on March 10, 2013 [1 favorite]

This is really cool.

For people who haven't clicked on the link yet, the "slideshow" one goes to a video slideshow that lingers over some of the pictures for a rather long time. Also because it's a youtube video, audio will autostart. (Just a warning for people like me who open it in a background tab expecting to be able to click to start when ready.)
posted by lollusc at 6:12 PM on March 10, 2013

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