28 July 2015

LOC -- "Every Photo Is a Story," strategies for examining photos

Photos are easy to love though sometimes dating them can be a challenge.  When we are seeking clues to our ancestors, where they lived and who they are, dating a photograph can be quite important.

The Library of Congress (LOC) has a new Flickr site: "Every Photo Is a Story," strategies for examining photos based on Frances Benjamin Johnston's stunning "Blue Garden" lantern slides from the last century. 

Every photo is a story waiting to be discovered. Using Frances Benjamin Johnston's lantern slides as a jumping off point, Prints and Photographs Division reference librarian Kristi Finefield discusses strategies for "reading" photographs with historian Sam Watters in a wonderful new series of videos from the Library of Congress.

This album includes images which tell the story of the “Blue Garden” at Beacon Hill, the Newport estate of Arthur Curtiss and Harriet James. The story of the “Blue Garden” is one of many Sam Watters uncovered during his research, as he strove to identify and interpret more than 1,100 lantern slides. Along the way, he uncovered intriguing stories about individual photographs (what do you make of the man mowing the lawn, for instance?) and was able to set these beautiful, hand-colored lantern slides in the context of the larger story of American life and aspirations in the early 20th century.

Learn More:
• Have a look at the 
“Every Photo is a Story” Web site, which links to all of the "Every Photo is a Story" videos, accompany exercises to test your photo reading skills, and resources for further exploration. (Note: The videos are also accessible through YouTube.)
• Read about the 
Frances Benjamin Johnston lantern slides that Sam Watters researched and view the album showing more than 600 of the garden slides .
• Watch the 
“Books and Beyond” lecture Sam Watters recorded in 2012, where he discussed his book, Gardens for a Beautiful America, 1895-1935.
• Explore resources and activities listed on the Prints & Photographs Division's
“Researcher’s Toolbox” page.

Did you watch the videos and do the “Try It Yourself Exercise(s)”? What did you think?
Did they help you solve a personal photo mystery?

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