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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Found in the LOC: 21 Marion Post Wolcott Photos

The fact that Marion Post was a woman was novel for a professional photographer circa the 1930 — and trust it caused some consternation among some of her male colleagues, like the guys at the Philadelphia Evening Bulletin who pissed in her developing chemicals. Even after bawling them out, thus earning their begrudging respect, Post was still regulated to the “women’s beat,” i.e. fashion shows and society events. The paper even ran a piece called “Strange Jobs for Women,” with photojournalist as the headliner; a portrait of Post ran alongside it. It was therefore a huge relief for her when Post was invited in 1938 to join the Farm Security Administration, the government agency tasked with documenting life in post-Depression America. Post was their first full-time female photographer. (Dorothea Lange, who joined in 1935, was only part-time; the women met exactly once.)

The FSA was a perfect spot for Post. She had planned on becoming a teacher — in fact was studying child psychology in Vienna when she first dabbled with photographer, documenting the rise of fascism circa 1932 — and had worked in a few classrooms prior to that Bulletin gig, freelancing only when she could find the time. But her early work was prescient of the direction her career would take: Post snapped shots of the poor kids who resided near her upstate home and, in 1937, did principal photographer for Elia Kazan’s pro-labor film The People of the Cumberlands. Her extracurricular images she took of the rural people, published in the New York Times Magazine, helped lead to the Tennessee Valley Authority. The FSA’s struggle-centric mission was very much in her wheelhouse.

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Found in the LOC: 27 Gordon Parks Photos

(This is the first in what will be an ongoing series, “Found in the L.O.C.,” the Library of Congress.)

Chance played an instrumental role in artist Gordon Parks’ genre-spanning career. That’s both chance, as in “happenstance,” and chance, as in “taking a risk.” The former came early, and in fact catalyzed his career: The man who developed Parks’ film was impressed by the young shutterbug’s eye and suggested that he start taking photos for an upscale women’s fashion shop. That was 1937; Parks was a 25-year old black man. Applying for such a gig was the first occupational chance he took.

Up until then Parks, born dirt poor in Ft. Scott, Kansas and now living in St. Paul, had been working in bars and brothels, playing piano, singing and collecting used glasses to make ends meet. Once rent was made and food consumed, Parks spent what was left on Life and other glossy photo magazines, magazines he absorbed voraciously and that inspired him to save up for a camera. Soon he was snapping shots of life around him, i.e.: the somewhat seam side of night life, and that’s how he met  the developer who encouraged him to go pro. And Parks didn’t stop taking chances for another 68 years.

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