Tag Archives: photography

Documenting Ferguson receives a 2015 NSDA Innovation Award

4 Nov
Photo by Mark Regester from the Documenting Ferguson Digital Repository.

Photo by Mark Regester from the Documenting Ferguson Digital Repository.

Congratulations to the Documenting Ferguson team for receiving the 2015 NSDA Innovation Award! From the press release, “Awardees were selected based on how their work or their project’s whose goals or outcomes represent an inventive, meaningful addition to the understanding or processes required for successful, sustainable digital preservation stewardship.”

The Documenting Ferguson Project is on-going and the project has the ultimate goal of providing diverse perspectives on the events in Ferguson and the resulting social dialogue. Contribute your voice to the discussion by adding your images, videos or personal stories to the collection.


Photographers of the Civil Rights Movement

25 Jan

Shiloh Baptist Church in Albany, Georgia. Photo by Danny Lyon.

Shiloh Baptist Church in Albany, Georgia. Photo by Danny Lyon.

Photographers of the Civil Rights Movement: An Exhibit at the Film & Media Archive

January – May, 2013

The Film & Media Archive presents an exhibition on photography and the civil rights movement. Featuring images and books from photographers who helped document the dramatic moments in the movement including Danny LyonJames KaralesCharles Moore, Leonard Freed, and Bruce Davidson.

The media coverage both in photographs and television news footage of the resistance and brutality against activists had an undeniable impact on the general public and helped turn the tide in favor of the civil rights movement. As Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote in his book Why We Can’t Wait, “The brutality with which officials would have quelled the black individual became impotent when it could not be pursued with stealth and remain unobserved. It was caught—as a fugitive from a penitentiary is often caught—in gigantic circling spotlights. It was imprisoned in a luminous glare revealing the naked truth to the whole world.”

Henry Hampton’s documentary series Eyes on the Prize began with the story of Emmett Till’s murder. Up until Till’s murder, every year there were disappearances and unprosecuted murders and lynchings of African-Americans. The shock of the Till case was amplified by his mother’s decision to allow a photograph of his battered and mutilated body be published in Jet magazine. Of course, violent acts had occurred for many years before the 1950s, what was different was the revealing of these images in the mainstream media.

Protesters attacked with fire hoses in Birmingham, Alabama, 1963. Photo by Charles Moore.

Protesters attacked with fire hoses in Birmingham, Alabama, 1963. Photo by Charles Moore.

During the Birmingham campaign the violent response to citizens’ right to protest was documented by photographer Charles Moore, Bruce Davidson, and many other major news networks. The startling images of ordinary citizens, men, women, and children being attacked with dogs and water cannons made the front page in many newspapers around the world. Charles Moore later said, “Pictures can and do make a difference. Strong images of historical events do have an impact on society.”

Untitled, Time of Change (Damn the Defiant), 1963. Photography: Bruce Davidson/Magnum Photos.

Untitled, Time of Change (Damn the Defiant), 1963. Photography: Bruce Davidson/Magnum Photos.

Another moment which was captured on film and photograph was the Selma to Montgomery March. The iconic image of the march captured by James Karales was used in the promotional and cover art of Eyes on the Prize.

The exhibit will run from January – May, 2013, and can be viewed at the at the Film & Media Archive, Monday – Friday – 8:30-5:00 p.m.

The Great Depression

26 Oct

The Blackside series, The Great Depression, debuted on PBS on October 25, 1993. After the success of Eyes on the Prize, Henry Hampton set out to tell the history of the turbulent 1930s. As with Eyes on the Prize, Hampton wanted to look beyond the well-worn, familiar stories to find the individuals who were not in history books, but nonetheless could tell the story of that time in a way that had not been heard before.

Migrant Mother by Dorothea Lange – 1936

Two of the people interviewed for the series were Norma Rydlewski and Katherine McIntosh, the daughters of Florence Owens Thompson, who was the subject of Dorothea Lange’s iconic image, “Migrant Mother.”  In 1936, Dorothea Lange was working as a photographer for the Farm Securities Administration, documenting the devastating effects of the Great Depression. She photographed Thompson and her children at the end of a month-long trip of photographing migratory farm laborers.

Lange later said,

I saw and approached the hungry and desperate mother, as if drawn by a magnet. I do not remember how I explained my presence or my camera to her, but I do remember she asked me no questions. I made five exposures, working closer and closer from the same direction. I did not ask her name or her history. She told me her age, that she was thirty-two. She said that they had been living on frozen vegetables from the surrounding fields, and birds that the children killed. (Popular Photography, Feb. 1960)

The other images she took that day are from a further distance and show the tent and surrounding ground, but it is the medium close-up with Thompson in the center of the frame which became the iconic image.

When Blackside interviewed Norma Rydlewski and Katherine McIntosh in 1992, they gave a fuller picture of their mother and their transitory life at that time.

Norma who was the baby shown in her mother’s arms in the photograph, said,

I remember just moving all the time. We moved. Even as a little child I remember we’d load up…the tent or sometimes just a mattress or whatever we had, and we’d load that up and went to the next camp. But I can remember that being really young, and I remember thinking, “We’re not going to be here very long, so we’re going to go on down the road…My mom would talk to the farmers and make the arrangements for us to all go work, and then she’d get us together. We’d get up at like four in the morning. We’d all head out to the field. I always considered my mom very, very strong. Looking at her, in the pictures a lot of times she didn’t look like a beautiful woman, but she really was…We knew that when we got up in the morning that there was going to be work, or there was going to be food, and the reason it was going to be there was because my mom was going to see to it that we were going to be able to survive that day.

Katherine McIntosh, who was four years old at the time of the photograph and is one of the two girls shown leaning against her mother, described their  life and circumstances at that time,

I felt that I had to contribute, all of us did. That was our way of life. If we wanted anything, of course we all hoped out life would get better, which it did when we got older. Anyway we followed the fields…and the story first was told that Mother was selling the tires off our car to buy food, and my mother denied that. My older brother said that the radiator on our car had blew up, and when this picture was made they,him and I guess my two brothers had gone into town to try to get the radiator welded, and that’s what we were doing there. But we were like everyone else. We were looking for work.

In the interview, Norma also revealed that Thompson was an early union organizer,

One thing Mom taught us is that, one of the things that she was involved in is that she was an early union organizer. Katherine remembers that more than I do, but remembers having meetings when we were living even in the fields. Mom was real interested in that because that was our ticket out, to organize the unions.

– All quotes from: Interview with Katherine McIntosh and Norma Rydlewski, conducted by Blackside, Inc. on March 9, 1992, for The Great Depression. Washington University Libraries, Film and Media Archive, Henry Hampton Collection.

The family eventually settled in Modesto, California. At the time, Lange did not record Thompson name and she was only identified as the subject of Lange’s photo in the 1970s by a reporter for the Modesto Bee, Emmett Corrigan. The digitization of Blackside’s transcript is part of a larger project to digitize all the original interviews for The Great Depression series. Digitization of the video interviews is almost complete and the Film & Media Archive is working to have the original transcripts online in the near future, in the model of the Eyes on the Prize: The Complete Series online transcripts.

Episodes in the series covered Henry Ford and political activities by Ford workers, the New Deal, novelist and socialist Upton Sinclair’s 1934 campaign for governor on the “End Poverty in California” platform, union activity, and the build-up to World War II. Other interviewees include Gore Vidal, Maya Angelou, Ossie Davis, Charles Dempsey Floyd (Charles Arthur “Pretty Boy” Floyd’s son), Adam Clayton Powell, III, and many others.

Photo Restoration and Disaster Response

8 Aug

Becci Manson: (Re)touching lives through photos

Becci Manson is a photographer and artist who used photographic restoration practices during the cleanup of the devastating 2011 tsunami in Japan. Although trained as a photographer rather than an archivist, Manson saw an opportunity during the cleanup combine her knowledge of digital photographic retouching with disaster response to restore survivors’ photos. Disaster preparation and response are an integral part of an archivist’s training and Manson found a way to combine her knowledge of digital photographic retouching with disaster response to salvage family photos and memories.

In this TED Talk, Manson describes how the idea came to her while she was helping with the cleanup as a volunteer with in Tōhoku, Japan,

“During those 3 weeks of digging ditches and gutting homes I discovered vast amounts of photos that had been found and handed into evacuation centers. The photos were dirty, wet and homeless. As I spent my first day hand-cleaning them, I couldn’t help but think how easy it would be for me, my colleagues and my friends to fix some of them. So we did.”

After this, Manson began the Photo Rescue Project  while working with All Hands Volunteers. She enlisted a group of volunteers with similar skills to her own and began working to scan, retouch, and digitally restore the photos. Since that time, Manson has gone on to work on other disaster relief programs in Prattsville, NY after Hurricane Irene, and in Binghamton, NY after Tropical Storm Lee.

Disaster preparation and response are an integral part of an archivist’s training, and the Library of Congress has many useful online guides with information on how to care for your photographs. They also have advice and information on what to do if your family photos are damaged during a disaster, and a page on digital preservation.

Civil Rights Veterans Today

14 Apr

An article in Salon on Civil Rights Veterans has interviews and photographs with some people who were also interviewed for Eyes on the Prize I and II.

During the week of Obama’s inauguration ceremony, photographer Lauren Hermele met with several veterans of the U.S. civil rights movement and talked to them about the change of government

The article includes a slide show of black and white portraits of numerous Civil Rights workers including, Roger Wilkins, interviewed for Eyes on the Prize II, and Courtland Cox, Lawrence Guyot, and Bob Zellner (pre-interview only), all interviewed for Eyes on the Prize I. The filmed interviews for Eyes I can be read in their entirety at the Eyes on the Prize I Interview site, produced by Washington University’s Film and Media Archive and Digital Library Services (DLS).