Found in the LOC: 28 Pics from WEB DuBois’ 1899 Show

In 1899, WEB DuBois, a man many of us associate with writing, traveled around America, compiling a collection candid pictures of African Americans living their lives at the turn of the century; these images were then sent oversea to Paris, where they were displayed at the  Exposition Universelle of 1900, under the name “Exhibit of the American Negroes.”

It’s a harsh name, but where similar shows in the past had othered black people, trying to denote their “difference” from white people, DuBois’ show both showed diversity among black people — a revolutionary concept for some people back then and, sadly, today — and exhibited the stunning banality of everyday black life. Of course, we Americans know that in the background there was hideous racism and the ever-present threat of violence, which makes the composure in and of these pictures all the more remarkable.

Here are 28 of the nearly 400 in DuBois’ show; many of these were taken by DuBois collaborator Thomas E. Eskew, and all were shot in and around Atlanta, some, I believe, not far from where I live now… All were found over at the Library of Congress.

(And for more Found in the LOC, click here.)

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Found in the LOC: 12 Jessie Willcox Smith Color Plates


The Library of Congress is currently presenting a show of groundbreaking female illustrators and graphic designers in America. Called “Drawn to Purpose,” and up through October of this year, the collection features work by luminaries like fashion illustrator Grace Drayton; Mary Hollock Foote, one of the first women to work as a professional illustrator; and Jackie Ormes, a groundbreaking black female comic book creator behind the serialized story Heartbeats.

And then there’s Jessie Willcox Smith, the exceptional talent who provided countless illustrations for late 19th century and early 20th century magazines — Collier’s, Century and Harper’s, to name a few — and popular books, such as Little Women and A Child’s Book of Country Stories. Perhaps her most famous work, however, are the illustrations Smith provided for the 1916 re-issue of Charles Kinglsey’s fantastical morality tale, The Water-Babies, about a kid who drowns and must reclaim his righteousness to make it back to land.

That said, for this week’s “Found in the LOC,” and to celebrate the Library of Congress’ Drawn to Purpose show, here are a dozen of Smith’s whimsical yet sinister Water Babies water colors, all from 1916. Above, “Mrs. Doasyouwouldbedoneby” and “Mrs. Bedonebyasyoudid“.

Ten more AFTER THE JUMP.

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Found in the LOC: 21 Vintage Pics of Sled Dogs

Dogs are far more than man’s bets friend; they’re also our best assistants! First used in hunting expeditions at least 15,000 years ago, dogs became herders around 4,000 BCE, branched into health services, ie seeing eyes, in the 1500s and started fighting crime in the 1880s, when English bloodhounds were used to track Jack the Ripper.

But no interspecies cooperation is as intrepid and romantic than dog sledding: traversing long, often forbidding terrains with a pack of dogs, the use of which first began around 9,000 years ago. In honor of all the canine drivers and their hard work, here are nearly two dozen images of canines giving humans a helping hand. [I bet you thought I was going to say “paw.”]

Revel in their adorable utilitarianism, AFTER THE JUMP.

Above, a dog team delivering provisions in Alaska c. 1900.

(For more Found in the LOC, click here.)

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Found in the LOC: 27 Posters of Magic Acts, 1879-1929

To celebrate The Magicians’ third season premiere on SyFy tonight, I’ve magically moved up this week’s Found in the LOC: a collection of magic show posters from 1879-1929.

Here you’ll find lavish, mysterious, macabre and beguiling adverts for a bevy of oft-overlooked illusionists, including Frederick Bancroft, a Chicago dentist who moved to New York to become a magicians; Howard Thurston, a 1910 poster for whom is seen above and who would later team up with Harry Kellar, whose decapitation trick is advertised here; and there’s also Newmann the Great, the frontier-born, Minnesota-bred mentalist who helped pioneer the whole darn industry. And, yes, there’s at least one Harry Houdini-related art work (most of the Library of Congress’ images of the famous virtuoso are only available for special order or at the library itself.)

So, without further ado, here, for your entertainment, for your wonderment, for your delicious unique views… 26 posters of old school magic acts!

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Found in the LOC: 23 Great Edward Penfield Pics

Amid all those wonderful old bicycle adverts posted a few “Found in the LOCs” ago, there were a number of images by Edward Penfield, the granddaddy of American graphic design.

It seems unfair to his legacy not to offer his landmark images some more space. After all, Brooklyn-born Penfield popularized posters in the States, played a key role in establishing New Rochelle as an early arts colony  and was art director for Harper’s Weekly during a seminal period in American publishing

So here, in honor of Penfield and the path he forged for future illustrators, and in no particular order, are 23 of his illustrations, all sourced from the Library of Congress, which has a ton of other ones, too.

Some things that caught my eye: similarities between his style and two other artists, contemporary JC Leyendecker and current master Alex Katz; the self-possession of his women; and the sex appeal of his men.

(And for more Found in the LOC, click HERE.)

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Found in the LOC: 28 Designs By Art Deco Great Winold Reiss

German-born artist Winold Reiss was enamored by America’s diversity when he arrived here in 1913, at the age of 27, and this interest shows in his work, including his intimate portraits of of Harlem Renaissance leaders and Blackfoot American Indians: vibrant, deco-infused images that eschewed caricature in favor of universal humanity. “To understand life, we cannot have prejudice,” Reiss said.

An optimist through and through, Reiss hoped his art could reshape society at large, leading people toward a more inclusive, more progressive mindset. Reiss believed that by picturing the honor, beauty, and dignity of all peoples, his art could help break down racial prejudices and testify to what Johann Wolfgang von Goethe called the ‘unity of all creation,’” explains the Reiss Partnership, stewards of his work. And it’s this approach that secured Reiss’ legacy as one of the greatest portraitists of the early twentieth century. He died in 1953.

But in addition to his humanistic portraits, the multi-talented creator also designed murals for hot spots like the Apollo Theater, the Hotel St. George, and a massive 14-panel series for Cincinnati’s Union Terminal, and he excelled at interior design, too: Reiss laid out all of New York’s hipper-than-hip Longchamps restaurants in the 1930s, as well as Max Lyman’s joint in Los Angeles.

Some of these art deco-laden conceptions are included below, as are a number of Reiss’ rarely seen wallpaper designs and even a few of his more sociopolitical pieces. They may not have changed the world, but they sure are purdy.

(And for more in the Found in the LOC series, click HERE.)

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Found in the LOC: 34 Pics of Animals Acting Human

You never know what you’ll find in the Library of Congress’ digital archives. I searched “pin” and came up with that image above: a kitten adorned in a dress and bowling. Obviously I had to know more, so I clicked on the “animals in human situations” link and was delivered to a collection of images by Harry Whittier Frees.

Turns out Frees, 1879-1953, was a pioneer in pet photography who posed baby animals, mostly kittens, doing all sorts of whimsical things.  The New York Daily News called him “original LOLCat photographer,” and NPR recently ran a profile on the late artist. Spoiler: like so many creative minds, Frees wound up broke and broken.

But at least Frees’ campy art lives on — and it’s adorable. Except for the ones with the dolls. They’re creepy. So, without further ado, 33 other Frees images, all taken between 1914 and 1915, AFTER THE JUMP.

And for more Found in the LOC, that’s Library of Congress, click HERE.

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