Photo Essays, Spot News and Stock Photography

Posts from the ‘Documentary’ category

Dora, Alabama c.1960

THE COAL MINER

This sensitive portrait “The Coal Miner” (Dora, Alabama c.1960), is the latest addition to our coal collection. This miner worked in the Warrior Coal Field in Walker County. The only question remaining is did he lose his right foot in a mine accident or was this just a bad crop by the photographer? Regardless, working in the coal mines is a dangerous occupation.

May 7, 1915

LAST VOYAGE OF RMS LUSITANIA

Our research indicates with a very high degree of confidence that this was the last photo taken of RMS Lusitania before she was torpedoed off Head of Kinsale, Ireland on May 7, 1915. The lighthouse at Head of Kinsale is visible in the background. The Lusitania had made several hundred transits across the Atlantic between Europe and the United States so her speed and heading were well established. At a top speed of 29 knots she could outrun any U-boat in open waters. But the Lusitania was torpedoed twice on her starboard side. This means that the U-boat would have had to be lying in wait between the coastline and the ship giving it time to set up the angle on the bow and calculate distance and speed. The sinking of the Lusitania was no chance encounter. Based on speed of the ship in this photo and the fact that she was hit 11 miles SSE of Kinsale, this photo was probably taken about half an hour before the attack. The great ship sank in 18 minutes.

See also: Lusitania

 

On the road to Jerusalem, July 1961.

KINGDOM OF HEAVEN

You need to see this film, “Kingdom of Heaven” (2005) starring Orlando Bloom and Eva Green to appreciate its historical accuracy. Do your homework. I think that most people need to watch this film several times to understand the storyline. This is one of my favorite films, but then again I taught history.

 

Kingdom of Heaven“; Israel July 1961

Above the Rappahannock River.

FREDERICKSBURG, VIRGINIA

If I showed you a photo of the Statue of Liberty I think that you would have little trouble in telling me that the location of the statue was New York Harbor. But what about a photo such as the one shown here? Could you identify the location? Call it an acquired skill or whatever, but after looking at tens of thousands of photos for 40 years such photo identification becomes possible. Perhaps my years of teaching history had some side benefits. I was able to identify the location without any accompanying documentation. This is “Fredericksburg, Virginia” c.1990 above the Rappahannock river.  If you look closely you can you not see the Union and Confederate soldiers squaring off for battle? Almost.

Palestine (Israel, Feb. 1948)

THE REFUGEE SHIP

Time to play detective. If you are unable to positively identify a photo regarding time and place at least you should try to determine what it is not. That is how we have always proceeded. This photo caught our eye. Was it a troop ship or a refugee ship? Close examination of the passengers ruled out the former as these are clearly not soldiers or sailors. So, refugees. We eliminated “boat people’ from Vietnam as the passengers appear to be Caucasian. Mariel boat lift from Cuba? Ship is way too large. Albanians fleeing to Italy? Wrong kind of ship.

Could these be survivors of the Titanic aboard the Carpathia? The hull does not match that of the Carpathia. Wish that is what it was, but the final answer is also significant. These are, in fact, Jewish refugees who were survivors of the Holocaust emigrating to Palestine (Israel) in 1948. Documentation that accompanied the photo set the date as 1948. The  ship’s hull does not match the Exodus nor the Theodore Herzl. Possible match is the S.S. Patria, but we give a higher rating to the S.S. Providence which sailed from Marseilles. Again, we cannot be completely certain as to the name of this ship but its passengers and destination are beyond question.

 

Jewish Refugee Ship“; Palestine (Israel, Feb. 1948).

Tupelo, Mississippi (1923)

KLAN

If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and quacks like a duck it is probably a duck. We assess that the men in white shirts and ties are high ranking members of the Ku Klux Klan, and along with other members are marching down Main street at the Crossroads in Tupelo, Mississippi (1923). This was during the second coming of the Klan. A sale on fedoras perhaps? Unlikely.

 

Klan“; Tupelo, Mississippi (1923)

Japanese-American War Relocation Camp 1942-1945.

MANZANAR

I would argue that the majority of Americans would not recognize the lead photo is this blog, “Manzanar“. If you were Japanese-American, on the other hand, I think that you would not have this recognition problem. This is the infamous War Relocation Camp in Owens Valley, California where thousands of Japanese-American citizens were forcibly housed during the war years 1942-1945. It remains a dark stain on our human rights record. Goodbye to Manzanar!