ICYI: Wyoming First In Women’s Suffrage, 1869

Hats off to Wyoming, which on this date in 1869 became the first territory or state to grant women the right to vote.

Sure, the all-male legislature’s intentions weren’t the truest. Some hoped to drum up good publicity for Wyoming. All of them were Democrats, and many hoped to secure partisan favor among potential female voters. And some simply wanted to attract more women to Wyoming for procreative purposes – or, at least, sex.

Regardless of the lawmakers’ reasoning, the measure passed 7-4, and was soon signed by Republican Gov. John Campbell. Women voted in Wyoming the next fall. But things didn’t go as Democrats planned: women leaned Republican that year.

Bitter as all hell, Democrats tried to rescind the women’s suffrage the next year, but Gov. Campbell used his veto power to put a stop to that. Later, in 1890, when Wyoming was transitioning from territory to state, the U.S. Congress also urged them to excise women’s suffrage from their state constitution. But this time lawmakers from both parties refused, a move that helped cement Wyoming’s nickname, The Equality State.

On a related note: check out a recent post on awesome women’s rights activist Dr. Mary Walker.

Found in the LOC: 20 Old Newsstands, 1937-1943

(“Chicago, Illinois. Newsstand in Union Station train concourse, 1943,” Jack Delano)

Newspapers have played a central role in the American narrative since colonial days, when editors, writers, and just plain average folk used the media to make change. And papers remain just as important to our democracy today, as Trump and his allies try to twist reality to their own interests. And the American people know this; that’s why, even as print versions suffer and shutter, digital subscriptions to outlets like the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal continue to soar – We want the truth!

To celebrate the newspaper and its essential place in our culture, here are 20 images of newsstands across America, from 1937-1942, taken by some of the greatest names in photography: Marjory Collins, Russell Lee,  Edwin Locke, Arthur Rothstein, and John Vachon.

What’s so incredible here is the wide, only-in-America spectrum of representation: From Japanese Americans reading magazines to Mexican Americans selling diarios, from Baltimore workers reading news about World War II to a New Yorker newsie lost in dozens of titles; from Minnesota to Memphis, Texas to Oregon, these are snapshots of America as it is and as it should always remain.  And be sure to keep your eyes peeled for some early editions of Detective Comics and Action Comics!

(“Los Angeles, California. Newsstand on a street corner, 1942,” Russell Lee)

Check out the whole collection AFTER THE JUMP!

And click here for more Found in the LOC!

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Hercules: Gilbert Stuart’s Most Fascinating Subject

Gilbert Stuart was the Annie Liebovitz of his day: Every power player wanted to sit for one of the painter’s portraits, and many did, including six sitting presidents, many of their wives, congressmen, merchants, and “influencers” of the era. No doubt you’d recognize his most famous work: the George Washington portrait Dolly Madison saved from the burning White House during the War of 1812.

That said, looking at a gallery of Stuart’s work becomes tedious. It’s white face after white face, powdered wig after powdered wig — but wait, here’s someone interesting: the only person of color in his collection. It’s a man known only as Hercules, George Washington’s enslaved chef.

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Friday Mood Music: Herb Alpert


It was always a thrill to catch Herb Alpert’s “Rise” on the oldie’s station growing up, a rare event indeed, and it was even more exciting after the Notorious B.I.G. sampled this infectious 1979 dance instrumental on his own 1997 single, “Hypnotize.” I’d never seen this video until today. It too is hypnotizing.

Happy weekend!

Found in the LOC: 15 Walker Evans ‘Praise’ Shots

Building off Tuesday’s post on James Agee, today’s Found in the LOC features 15 Walker Evans images taken for the men’s mutual project, Let Us Now Praise Famous Men.

Evans (1903-1975) never dreamed of photographing the down-and-out while growing up in Chicago’s affluent suburbs. His first love was French literature, and it was that subject that consumed his early, and brief, college education at Williams College. Frustrated by American academia, Evans left Massachusetts to spend 1925 in Paris before returning to the US, specifically New York City, where he worked as a Wall Street clerk.

It wasn’t until 1928 that Evans began taking photos, and it began as just a hobby –  snapping the Brooklyn Bridge and historic Boston homes. But things got more serious as the decade drew to a close, and in 1931, Evans shot the images for Carleton Beals’ The Crime of Cuba, about life on the island under Gerardo Machado’s iron fist. This work caught the attention of officials at the New Deal government’s Resettlement Administration, which in 1935 dispatched Evans to cover the Great Depression in West Virginia and Pennsylvania. This role in turn led Evans into the Farm Security Administration, for which he did similar work, only in the South, paving the way for Evans’ work with James Agee on Let Us Now Praise Famous Men, and the production of singular images that became as synonymous with the era’s trials and tribulations as Dorothea Lange’s.

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Let Us Now Praise James Agee

Late author James Agee is regarded today as one of American literature’s most incisive, insightful, and innovative writers. It wasn’t so while he was alive. He was respected enough, sure: His book and film reviews for Time and The Nation were popular and well regarded, as were his contributions to the screen adaptations of The African Queen and The Night of the Hunter, but Agee didn’t grow in stature untilafter his alcoholism-fueled heart attack in 1955, at the age of 45.

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