Along the highway near Bakersfield, California. Dust bowl refugees by Dorothea Lange

The Photographers Who Captured the Great Depression

The Farm Security Administration had photographers fan out across the country to document agricultural conditions. But they brought back much more.

Sanger Circus Collection

In Victorian England, the circus appealed across an otherwise class-divided society, its audiences ranging from poor peddlers to prestigious public figures.
Alphonse Bertillon, first head of the Forensic Identification Service of the Prefecture de Police in Paris (1893).

The Origins of the Mug Shot

US police departments began taking photographs of people they arrested in the 1850s.
New Albatross recipe book

The Delectably Indulgent History of Perfect Food Photos

Instagram didn't invent photos of culinary masterpieces designed to inflame the appetite. Cookbooks have been at it for centuries.
Marilyn Monroe at Hollywood agent Johnny Hyde's backyard, 1950

How Hollywood Sold Glamour

The complicated notion of glamour in classic Hollywood, suggesting that stars were aloof and unknowable, was also a means to sell products.
A graduate nurse and student nurses in isolation uniforms, early 1900s

Nurses Have Always Been Heroes

Nothing drives that home more than this amazing photo collection from the Philadelphia General Hospital School of Nursing.
"Spirit" photograph, supposedly taken during a seance, actually a double exposure or composite of superimposed cut-outs, showing woman with portraits of men and women around her head

How Spirit Photography Made Heaven Literal

Are the departed watching over us, and if so, what are they wearing? Victorian spiritualists believed that ghosts could be captured on film.
Francesca Woodman, Untitled photograph, circa 1975-1978. Gelatin silver print.

Photographer Francesca Woodman’s Haunting Dissolutions

Woodman's imagery engaged with architectural and natural landscapes that were themselves in a state of change and decay.
Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Little_Galleries_-_1906.jpg

Alfred Stieglitz’s Art Journal

"The best one can say of American art criticism is that its CLEVERNESS OFTEN CONCEALS ITS LACK OF PENETRATION," Alfred Stieglitz wrote.
Kodak Brownie Starlet, 1957

How the Brownie Camera Made Everyone a Photographer

Eastman Kodak used folklore to sell a modern technology, and ended up creating new communities and forms of expressions along the way.