"The present contains nothing more than the past, and what is found in the effect was already in the cause."
March 27, 2008 12:12 AM   Subscribe

USA 1940-1950 USA 1939-1969. Color photographs. [Possible NSFW ads.]

Yeah, the second set doesn't seem to go to the fifties, let alone 1969, but great pictures nonetheless.

None of the linked pictures are NSFW, but the site's index page (http://www.oreys.com) is NSFW.
posted by orthogonality (15 comments total) 27 users marked this as a favorite
Those are neat photos. There's something unsettling to me about old photographs. On one hand, if you went out today and put someone in those clothes, they'd look like that, and yet they wouldn't. It always seems to me that there's a touch of otherness in their faces; they've seen things I haven't, and I've seen things they couldn't dream of. Rationally, I know the feelings are probably just a combination of the fading colors and my own preconceptions, but they're still there.
posted by lore at 12:24 AM on March 27, 2008 [4 favorites]

This is a subset of the Library of Congress's collection, shown here on flickr.. (I find flickr's interface a pain in the ass, so instead having a bunch of photos on one page at oreys.com is a win for me.)

lore writes "It always seems to me that there's a touch of otherness in their faces; "

Yeah, I get this impression too, I link that it's that they are much thinner compared to today's Americans, and sometimes malnourished.
posted by orthogonality at 12:29 AM on March 27, 2008

Great find. Thanks for posting.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:39 AM on March 27, 2008

I got a soft spot for Rosie the Riveter.
posted by Faux Real at 12:41 AM on March 27, 2008

I believe you'll find most, if not all, over at Shorpy as well, where they're categorized and have a bit of discussion, if not sleuthing, on most images. I heart Shorpy.
posted by mumkin at 12:51 AM on March 27, 2008 [1 favorite]

Nice insight lore. I think there is a different sensibility in different eras. In the second set, I thought the dog looking at his master in photo 2 looked like the guy looking at his buddy in photo 6.
posted by binturong at 1:02 AM on March 27, 2008

mumkin writes "I believe you'll find most, if not all, over at Shorpy as well, where they're categorized and have a bit of discussion, if not sleuthing, on most images."

Great link!
posted by orthogonality at 1:10 AM on March 27, 2008

Mod note: nsfw added and a few "omg nsfw" comments removed
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 6:58 AM on March 27, 2008

Shorpy is indeed quite cool. Thanks!
posted by hackly_fracture at 9:39 AM on March 27, 2008

Thanks Ortho, these are great. I wish I could articulate how (film stock, colorization techniques, technical stuff aside) people and things looked different back then. I mean diet and medical treatment and clothing (not just styles, but materials and how they are cut) have a lot to do with it, but there is something else (something very subjective and possibly imaginary) about how people looked and carried themselves. Possibly also to do with self-consciousness in front of the camera.
posted by Divine_Wino at 10:04 AM on March 27, 2008

I love how the addition of colour to photographs makes them feel more immediate and related to my experience. Black and white, though aesthetically pleasing in many cases, removes the feeling of connection between the subject and myself.

Great link.
posted by C.Batt at 10:05 AM on March 27, 2008

1. Shorpy is the best. Has anyone here bought a print from them? I'm curious if the quality is worth it.

2a. Old photos make me think of Woody.

Here's to the hearts and the hands of the men
That come with the dust and are gone with the wind.

posted by wemayfreeze at 10:10 AM on March 27, 2008

Beautiful. Thanks.
posted by tiger yang at 10:15 AM on March 27, 2008

Dorothea Lange really was amongst the best.
posted by Devils Rancher at 7:14 PM on March 27, 2008

The Shorpy photos are almost universally taken straight from the Library of Congress memory.loc.gov site, without any link at all. They usually scale down the images, even in 'large' form. The original-size LoC images are usually 100MB+ TIFF images (not even compressed losslessly with LZW!) which is kind of a pain, it's also sometimes a pain to generate an URL that won't expire pointlessly (but it's doable). At least Shorpy usually notes the date plus credits the photographer and the subject — which is usually enough to find the original image easily from the LoC.

A veritable cavalcade of fuckups on all sides.

At least they aren't as bad as englishrussia.com or these assholes.
posted by blasdelf at 5:08 AM on March 28, 2008

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