Celebrities

The sad story of a magazine born eighty years too soon

Some time ago a man lit on a publishing idea that seemed obvious enough but apparently had never been tried before: since people are most interested in the doings of famous people, why not devote a magazine to just that? And, for good measure, have it well illustrated? And so the new publication appeared—in 1895. Read more »

Loveland Summer

The Forgotten Photographs of Nancy Ford Cones

In 1905 the Eastman Kodak Company held a photographic competition that drew twenty-eight thousand entries. The first prize went to a young photographer named Edward Steichen; the third-prize winner was Alfred Stieglitz. Second prize went to a young farmwife from Loveland, Ohio. The name of Nancy Ford Cones is not now commonly known even to the most ardent devotees of photography—an obscurity thoroughly undeserved, as the photographs in this portfolio demonstrate. Born in Milan, Ohio, in 1869, she became interested in photography in her twenties.Read more »

Shadows Of The Storm

A haunting portfolio of newly discovered Civil War photographs

Shortly after the turn of the century, the historian Francis Trevelyan Miller began writing collectors, photographers, historical societies, and retired military men asking for photographs of the Civil War. In many cases he asked too late; a Mr. Bender, for instance, who owned over one hundred thousand glass plate negatives, had scraped the images off them in order to sell the glass to gauge makers.Read more »

Relics Of The Horn

A Photographic Portfolio

“Again, the seas smashed over her. In a sudden shift of maddened wind, the whole mainmast went overboard—sails, yards, rigging, everything. As the dismasted hull floundered in the tumult of freezing waters, the broken spars flailed the hull, leaks started, the sea came down below. The pumps were smashed. … Soundings showed three feet of water down below, rising. Again, she had to turn back, this time to the Falkland Islands. It was for the last time.” Read more »

Explosion In The Magic Valley

The Photographic Record of a Western Success Story

The river has its source on the western slopes of the continental divide in Yellowstone National Park, flows south through Grand Teton National Park, curves west in a long arc through southern Idaho, then turns north and west for its meeting with the Columbia River, 1,038 miles from its beginnings. The land along its southern arc is called the Snake River Plains, and at the southernmost point of the arc there is a place called the Magic Valley—unsurprisingly, for a kind of magic was done there more than seventy-five years ago. Read more »

“A Very Good Specimen Of The Daguerreotype”

The story behind the recently rediscovered picture that proved to the world that the human face could be photographed

Everyone knows that the age of photography was born in France when Louis Daguerre developed a way to fix sunlight on a plate. Not quite so familiar, however, is the fact that Daguerre’s first attempts required nearly as much time to record a scene as an artist would have needed to paint it. It took two ingenious Philadelphians to perfect the process to a point where it could record a human face—and the remarkable picture on the opposite page documents their triumph. Read more »

American Vernacular

As a nation we spend a disproportionate amount of time destroying the remnants of our immediate past. There are voices enough to protest against the razing of marble and brownstone monuments, but nobody speaks out for the far more vulnerable and transient victims of rezoning and renewal: cafés, small grocery stores, rural banks, shops, warehouses. Dark, lopsided, and shabby, they hang on for a while in the run-down districts on the edge of town and then disintegrate under the bulldozers to make way for the bowling alleys and condominiums.Read more »

Pop Laval

Between his arrival in Fresno in 1911 and his death there fifty-five years later, Claude “Pop” Laval devoted all his energy, every day, to photographing the people, places, events, industries, and farms of Fresno and the surrounding San Joaquin Valley. The result was a remarkable pictorial record, one of the most extensive ever produced by a single man—approximately one hundred thousand negatives and more than one hundred and twenty thousand prints. What is even more remarkable is the fact that most of them have survived. Read more »

War Correspondent, 1864: The Sketchbooks Of James E. Taylor

When old James E. Taylor exercised his powers of near-total recall to set down memories of the Shenandoah campaign, he left us a unique record of a very new, very hazardous profession

“Mr. Taylor’s entire career has been fraught with vicissitudes and picturesque adventures” —James E. Taylor Read more »