Reflections on Photochroms

The collections of the Prints & Photographs Division of the Library of Congress include thousands of photochroms. These early color prints were photomechanically reproduced so they weren’t photographs in the traditional sense. I spent some time looking through the photochroms, most of which date from the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, while working on a Flickr album of images of mirrors and reflections. Neither a color photograph nor a hand colored image, a photochrom was made by combining the photographic process with the lithographic process. A black-and-white negative was transferred to a lithographic stone or plate. Each color of the photochrom required a separate stone. If the photochrom included four colors, four stones were needed to make the finished…

New Year, New to See

The following is a guest post by Hanna Soltys, Reference Librarian, with contributions by Sara W. Duke, Curator of Popular and Applied Graphic Arts, and Micah Messenheimer, Curator of Photography, all of the Prints and Photographs Division. To kick off the New Year, the Prints & Photographs Virtual Orientations for January 2022 look at newly processed, acquired, and/or digitized collections. While we often discuss and share new collections and acquisitions, this orientation will also highlight resources such as finding aids to help with research projects. One of the newly processed collections you can expect to learn about is the William Kennoch Collection. This collection includes over 1,200 photographs from the U.S. Secret Service of counterfeiters, criminals, and others accused of…

Slice Up the Fruitcake

This week, we’re looking at something I don’t like very much – fruitcake. This seasonal sweet treat has never appealed to me. But while preparing for a recent Flickr album featuring images of butter and baking, I stumbled upon three fruitcake photos that caught my eye and deserved detailed views. First up, a Russell Lee photograph taken in San Angelo, Texas for the Farm Security Administration. Removing fruit cakes from tin in which they were baked at bakery in San Angelo, Texas. Photo by Russell Lee, 1939. http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/fsa.8b23652 In the photo, fruitcakes are removed from their baking tins. My eye was led to a detail in the upper left corner of the image. An object hangs on the wall and…

A Bicycle Challenge in the Nation’s Capital

This past year a researcher called to our attention a series of photographs of children posing with bicycles in the National Photo Company Collection. Below is one of the images, which came to the Library with a somewhat mysterious title: “Times girl on bicycle.” Times girl on bicycle. Photo by National Photo Company, between 1921 and 1924. http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/npcc.22067 Documentation obtained by the researcher through the Library of Congress’s Chronicling America historical newspaper database provides a fuller picture. The August 8, 1921 issue of The Washington Times reveals that the girl in the image is Theresa Ebert of Cherrydale, Virginia, and that she had earned the bicycle in a contest sponsored by the newspaper by convincing 35 people to purchase an…