In 2019, Tamara Lanier sued Harvard University claiming that she was the rightful owner of daguerreotypes of an enslaved father and daughter. A Massachusetts judge has dismissed her claim, ruling that it’s Harvard that should own the images after all.
In 1976 while rummaging through an attic of Harvard’s Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology in search of old museum publications, editorial assistant Lorna Condon opened a drawer in a wooden cabinet. Inside, she found a number of flat leather cases which contained a series of daguerreotypes of partially and fully nude Black people. Names were handwritten on paper labels identifying 7 individuals: Alfred, Delia, Drama, Fassena, Jack, Jem, and Renty with assumed ethnicities and occupations. The daguerreotypes represented some of the earliest known images of slaves in the U.S.
In this video, Vox brings another example of a historic image that was most likely staged. It’s Roger Fenton’s Valley of the Shadow of Death taken in 1855 during the Crimean War. Two versions of the image caused a lot of questions and controversy, and film director Errol Morris was determined to figure it out.
I may be naive and a hopeless romantic, but I firmly believe that love conquers all. In their photo book Loving: A Photographic History of Men in Love 1850s-1950s, Hugh Nini and Neal Treadwell prove me right. They have collected a series of photos of male couples from back in the day when it was still illegal to engage in same-sex relationships. They prove that love is stronger than the law, and in case you stopped believing in love, these could make you change your mind.
Recently, we’ve seen a bunch of upscaled and colorized historic footage: from 1911 New York to 1972 Apollo 16 Lunar Rover ride. Even videos as old as the iconic 1896 The Arrival of a Train at La Ciotat Station are possible to upscale to 4K and get a splash of color. While many of us find them inspiring and exciting, historians don’t seem to share the opinion. In fact, they argue that the whole process is “nonsense” and they’d like YouTubers to stop doing it.
Olga Shirnina, also known as Klimbim, is one of the leading colorization artists who gives new life to historic images. However, her work has been banned from Facebook and Instagram several times now. Since September last year, her accounts have been suspended multiple times for posting images that depict “dangerous organizations.”
The Smithsonian Institution has released an online gallery of 2.8 million images with more to come. The massive collection includes images and data from across the Smithsonian’s 19 museums, along with nine research centers, libraries, archives, and the National Zoo. And the best of all is: all photos are copyright-free and available for you to download and use.
Most of us know Unsplash as a home of free stock photos (and an endless source of discussion about whether or not we should share our images for free). But today, there’s a good news story coming from the company. Thanks to its latest partnership, Unsplash is now offering a selection of historical photos free for everyone to download and use.
If you enjoy historic photos and need them for any purpose, here’s a real gem. Paris Musées has just launched an online collection with more than 100,000 digital reproductions of classic artwork. Among them, there are 62,500 photos, all of them scanned in high-resolution and publicly accessible under a CC0 license.
Whether you’re learning about history or looking for inspiration, historic images are always interesting to browse through. The Arab Image Foundation is digitizing its collection. Out of half a million images, now you can access and download 22,000 of them from an online gallery – and there are more to come.