Rare Photos of American History

These 40 photographs span the period from the advent of photography to the 1970s. They provide a glimpse into another world. For me, the most revealing photographs are those of the nineteenth century and the early 1900s. Being almost alien in the 21st century, I find them both enchanting and repulsing in equal measure.

Main picture: a wood-plank prison in Wyoming, 1893

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Insights into the Past

The past always seems so idyllic, so serene, and so sublime. The reality of day to day life is more prosaic, more challenging and far crueller. For instance the use of horse and carriages raises a number of questions. Firstly consider the welfare of the animals. In ancient and not so ancient wars, more bemoans the tragic loss of human life but what about that of the animals especially the horses. The movie The War Horse puts the atrocious treatment of horses during WW1 i.e. only a century ago into perspective. But what about another factor which had to be born with equanimity by the population especially those residing in the cities – the streets caked with horse excrement!

Main picture: A Normandy Beach landing photo they don’t show in textbooks – Brave women of the Red Cross arriving in 1944 to help the injured troops, WWII.

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Rarely Seen Moments of US History

This series of historical photographs is certainly exceptional. From a slave auction place, circa 1870 to a snapshot of New York in 1887 looking more like modern day Mumbai with telephone wires strung from every pole. I am curious about the slave auction place being dated as 1870 because slavery was abolished at the end of the American Civil War in 1865 unless this is a remnant of that event. Another of the insightful pictures of a bygone era, is a photograph of an opium den in America as it is evocative of the opium scourge in China itself during this era.

Main picture: An opium den in San Francisco, 1900

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Photographs to Electrify a Curious Mind

So many questions never get answered. Not that one is incurious but life is too short or the answer is not readily available. Whatever the reason, one never finds out. Instead of the usual canon of photographs of stunning sunsets or virgin African bush populated with grazing animals, this is an unusual collection of eclectic photographs. Take time to ponder on each.

For instance I have always been fascinated with Mount Everest. For me it defies belief that people would want to climb it knowing that the risk of dying is 1 in 10 and that the risk of losing a digit or a limb is even higher at between 2 to 3 in 10. Yet, for all that, men in the hundreds will not be dissuaded by the deprivations of freezing cold, oxygen sparse altitude and precipitous climbs in order to satisfy an inner yearning, a life-long desire to conquer their fears and the mountain.

Main picture: Climbers ascending the highest mountain in the world and the greatest challenge in their lives

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Life-like colourised photographs of WW2

World War Two black and white photos that are researched and colorized in detail by Doug and other artists from the ‘Colourisehistory Group.’ This is an example of their work.

Main picture:

A Finnish Brewster Buffalo 239 fighter (BW-352) of (Squadron) Lentolaivue/24 at Selänpää airfield. 24th June 1941. (Source – SA-Kuva. Colorized by Tommi Rossi from Finland)

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Unusual but Stunning Photographs

After a hard day at the office, I felt like a cheer-me-up uplifting story, something that would elevate me morally & emotionally. With its numerous problems – many self-inflicted – South Africa offers a smorgasbord of topics on which to vent one’s ire. Foremost amongst them are the avalanche of corruption claims and its handmaiden – incompetence.

PRASA’s – the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa – “faux pas” of ordering trains which were too “tall” for the electric lines transformed into a race issue when the CEO of PRASA – one Lucky Montana – accused the Bleed Newspaper’s white reporter of being anti-black for breaking the story.

Main picture: Their first flight

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