Archive for July, 2009

Carnival of the Commons: Of Baby Animals & iPhone Apps

Posted by zyrcster in Carnival of The Commons

This is your weekly update of important events and notes about the institutions that partake in the Flickr Commons.

Wild Thing: The Smithsonian National Zoo: a one hour video, courtesy of Hulu.
Great Museums

Friday Fun!

Baby Boom at the National Zoo’s Conservation and Research Center
Smithsonian Institution: National Zoo

Need more baby animals fix? Look no farther than Flickr and the National Zoo’s photostream.

Go Visit!

01 AugustMy Fair Lady at the Dryden Theatre, George Eastman House, a Lerner and Loewe classic.

Now through 18 OctoberIn Focus: Making a Scene at the Getty Museum. Theatricality and photography: “the images in this exhibition are inspired by art history, literature, religion, and mainstream media.”

13 August – The New York Public Library partners with the NYC chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association to host screenings of HBO’s series on Alzheimer’s Disease.

Traveling Photography

Posted by Rob Ketcherside in Articles, Then and Now

One of my favorite sets in The Commons is the New York Public Library’s Japan / Kusakabe Kimbei, one hundred hand-colored albumen prints from around the 1880s. It covers a wide range of classic tourist scenes of Japan, and has provided me long hours of research entertainment since last December when the NYPL joined the Flickr Commons. On a recent trip to Tokyo I was happy to upload a few more photos of the scenes “now,” and excitedly visited an exhibition of a Kimbei album held by the Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography.

Travel photography spread out from Europe in the mid-1800s, reaching Japan with the arrival of Felice Beato in 1863. Beato leveraged highly skilled colorists from Japan’s domestic printing and advertising industry to add life to his black and white prints, creating works of art unique from other parts of the world. His apprentices spun off their own studios. One of these was Kusakabe Kimbei, who opened up shop in 1881. Within a few years, Kusakabe had a large array of photographs available by catalog: individually or in large, lacquer-bound volumes. The volumes offered a sampling of scenes from around Japan. These volumes remain in private and museum collections around the world, and NYPL has a fine example.

Added to Flickr Commons, NYPL’s uniquely provide a great public window on Japanese tourism history. They were taken at popular travel destinations such as Nikko or Kyoto, in remote locations along the Tokaido road, and in and around the foreign settlement at Yokohama. With a bit of web searching and cross-referencing — especially with the wonderfully annotated collection at Nagasaki University — more precise dates and locations can be provided for many of the photographs, and they can moreover be understood in context with each other.

For example, this photo of the Grand Hotel on Yokohama’s waterfront:

View of Grand Hotel, Yokohama

The clues in online archives at Nagasaki University and the University of Washington, as well as photos hosted by Mitsubishi Electric and the Kanagawa Museum of Cultural History, send the camera spinning around the hotel and up the canal over a span of years. Finally, this leads to not only the location of the hotel, which is described on many Japanese sites, but to the actual positioning of the camera in the NYPL photo.

It’s a treacherous sport that can take several hours per photograph, but is rewarding more often than not. Recently a commenter in one Yokohama photograph wondered where it might have been taken. A quick look at a David Rumsey map of Yokohama and a Nagasaki University image provided the name of the bridge in the photo. Back and forth with other folks on Flickr leads to an understanding of where to take the photo today, and what it might look like.

Creating a “now and then” coupling of photos is truly satisfying, and always educational. Hunting down a photo that someone else has taken is great fun. But the true way to honor these travel photographs is to visit the spots yourself, and perhaps take a “now” shot, as I discovered this on a recent trip to Tokyo:

Main Street, Tokio (Princepal Street)Main Street, Tokio (Princepal Street)

Temple Haiden, at Shiba TokyoTemple Haiden, at Shiba Tokyo

Shinobadzu (Pond) Uyeno TokioShinobadzu (Pond) Uyeno Tokio

View of Uyeno TokioView of Uyeno Tokio

Asakusa Temple at Tokio

(This one’s not a Kusakabe photograph.)
Akasaka, TokyoAkasaka, Tokyo

The discussion of the Yokohama photo happened after I got back, so it’s on the list to visit next time.

Coincidentally, the Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography is running a series of exhibits this summer titled Traveling Photography (Tabi suru Shashin). The first installment features, among other images, 50 Kusakabe Kimbei prints from an album in the museum’s collection. I thought it would be nice to see them in person and look for images I recognize from NYPL, Nagasaki, and other collections. What I didn’t expect, though, was how utterly stunning they look. Compared with scanned, digital copies, the beauty of museum’s physical artifacts was brilliant. They shimmered with life, and their colors had a luminosity missing from normal developed film, and certainly from reproductions made for the exhibit book and even the hard-bound biography printed in 2006.

Now I’m hungry for more, and I hope everyone else is too. I’d love to see a traveling exhibit of Japanese travel photography, akin to the one in Tokyo but paired with “Now” photos from Flickr (I volunteer to take missing photographs, if there’s grant money lying around). It would feature holdings by many institutions — among Flickr Commons participants, at least George Eastman House, the Smithsonian, and the NYPL hold Kimbei photographs, and more likely have other old photos of Japan like the NYPL’s. These works of art need to get on the road, and be gawked at as they were originally intended!

And that was July … across the Commons

Posted by Stephanie Fysh in Across The Commons

Among the joys of browsing the Commons is finding those photos whose dates are more specific that “circa 1920″ or even “1920″. Here, in celebration of the middle of summer — or winter, as the case may be — are photos from across the Commons, from Julys past …

Cyclists climb over a closed railway crossing.
July 1932, the Tour de France.
Wielrenners beklimmen bewaakte overweg / Cyclists climbing over closed railway crossing
Nationaal Archief
“Revolutionary uprisings in Persia and Mexico threaten civil rebellion”.
July 5, 1908, the New York Tribune.
Revolutionary uprisings in Persia and Mexico threaten civil rebellion
The Library of Congress
The Dudley Cantrell Band plays at Grace Bros.
July 15, 1937, Sydney, Australia.
Dudley Cantrell Band, Grace Bros, Sydney, 1937 / Sam Hood
State Library of New South Wales
A young bride is prepared by her bridesmaids.
July 11, 1970, Nantucket, Massachusetts.
Being prepared by her bridesmaids, 1970.
Nantucket Historical Association
Tom Walton plays the guitar.
July 4, 1982, White Springs, Florida.
Guitar being played by Tom Walton: White Springs, Florida
State Library and Archives of Florida
The Langley Flyer superstructure is loaded onto a houseboat.
July 1903, Widewater, Virginia.
Loading Langley Flyer Superstructure onto Houseboat
DC Public Library
Berenice Abbott captures one moment in the city.
July 16, 1936, Union Square, New York City.
Union Square, 14th Street and Broadway, Manhattan.
New York Public Library
Seven testifying scientists pose for a photographer during the Scopes Trial.
July 1925, Tennessee.
Tennessee v. John T. Scopes Trial: The seven scientists asked to testify for the defense standing in front of the Defense Mansion.
Smithsonian Institution
American manufacturers parade on Independence Day.
July 4, 1893, Chicago.
Parade of American manufacturers on July 4th
Brooklyn Museum
And Mme Gadriol goes for a ride.
July 9, 1899, Luchon, France.
Mme Gardriol en chaise, Luchon, 9 juillet 1899
Bibliothèque de Toulouse

Recent Uploads to the Flickr Commons

Posted by zyrcster in Recent Uploads
George Eastman House celebrates the 40th anniversary of the first human walking on the moon with an incredible set of images of the 1971 Apollo 15 mission. Schmitt with Flag and Earth Above
The Moon
The Library of Congress adds 167 photochrome images, rich in color, of the beautiful Welsh countryside and seaside, including a few castles. Cader Idris (i.e. Cadair Idris) and Dyssyni Valley (cattle study), Wales
Photochrom Travel Views
See a few haunting photographs of ships and hurricanes, from the State Library and Archives of Florida. Ship grounded on Dog Island by 1899 hurricane
Hurricanes in Florida
The Biblioteca de Arte-Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian brings us important historical images of the 1931 revolt in Lisbon, Portugal. This was the 23rd revolt against the government in 21 years, with 80 killed. Revolta de 26 de Agosto de 1931, Lisboa, Portugal
Revolta de 1931
They’ve also uploaded tranquil imagery of Lisbon, a beautiful city. Avenida da República, Lisboa, Portugal
Lisboa: perspectivas gerais e parciais

Ships at the Leith Docks

Posted by Stephanie Fysh in Then and Now
Leith docks with the ship 'Cockburn' tied up
The Cockburn – National Galleries of Scotland
Rabid cat shoot Leith Docks Svithun1976b
The Svithun – Robin Hutton
THEN: 1843-46 NOW: 1976
Cruise Ships Europa and Rhapsody
Europa & Rhapsody – insulaner
Muckle great floating thing
Muckle great floating thing – Lucky Poet
NOW: 2003 NOW: 2009

Parc Monceau (8e arr)

Posted by Nina in Best of The Commons
Parc Monceau (8e arr)

Eugène Atget (French, 1857-1927)
Parc Monceau (8e arr), 1901-02

George Eastman House
: 1981:0955:0049.0001

view + comment on Flickr

Carnival of the Commons: on the Moon

Posted by zyrcster in Carnival of The Commons
Astronaut James Irwin gives salute beside U.S. flag during lunar surface extravehicular activity (EVA)

Astronaut James Irwin gives salute beside U.S. flag during lunar surface extravehicular activity (EVA), August 1, 1971
George Eastman House: 1992:0007:0002.0001
  • George Eastman House posts a terrific podcast on the The Lunar Orbiter Camera, manufactured by Eastman Kodak.
  • Also from GEH, The Moon Imagined, about James Hall Nasmyth and the moon.
  • The Getty Museum tweeted a great old moon photo in their collection to celebrate the 40th anniversary of men walking on the moon.
  • Students can help archive the Internet – the Library of Congress teams up with the Internet Archive (hey! George works there, yay!) and the California Digital Library to launch the K-12 Web Archiving Program.
  • The Field Museum launches a new Facebook application! Get yer pirate on, matey…
  • Preserving Gallipoli aerial photographs, an article from the Australian War Memorial about one of their fascinating and unusual collections.
  • Check out the Picks from the feminist bloggers on the Brooklyn Museum’s site: Feminist art, news, and events from the Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art.
  • Have you read the New York Public Library’s Blogging@NYPL? A great resource for book reviews and info on their services.
  • Read Destination: Niagara Falls, a great article by Christin Boggs of the Smithsonian Photography Initiative.
  • Iain Logie Baird, the curator of television at the National Media Museum, talks with the BBC about an old TV set.
  • View podcasts of the NMeM’s film series.
  • The Oregon State University Archives has a new take on preserving history (psst, it involves Flickr!)
  • The Powerhouse Museum asks for your help with direct input into the Australian Government 2.0 Issues Paper.
  • Do also check out some fun notes about their Odditorium exhibit.
  • Learn about debris from an exploded star in the Smithsonian Institution’s Chandra X-ray Lab blog.
  • View the Design in D.C. webcasts on Friday, July 24, 10 a.m.–11 a.m., from the Smithsonian’s National Design Museum.

E.S. Goodwin: Mystery no longer

Posted by Penny in Articles

In March, many of the Flickr Commons institutions posted photos of women, to mark Women’s History Month.  The Smithsonian took the opportunity to solicit help from the “crowd” in crowdsourcing:  they posted some images of women for whom they had little more than a name.  Who were these women? the Smithsonian asked. They were once noteworthy enough to have their portraits taken for the files of the Science Service.

Identities followed for many of the mystery women, and fairly quickly.  “K. M. Drew” turned up in a biographical dictionary as Kathleen Mary Drew-Baker, an English botanist; “Mrs. Howard S. Gaus” needed a name adjustment to be recognizable as Bird Stein Gans, a child development specialist and cousin of Gertrude Stein.   Mrs. Gans was matched to her correct name beyond a doubt when a Flickr user found her passport photo for comparison.

But then there was E.S. Goodwin.  A few suggestions came in, but nothing solid.  For months, no leads — and there were no beakers or books near her to even suggest what she did.

E.S. Goodwin, now given her full name on Flickr

E.S. Goodwin, now given her full name on Flickr

In July, however, the mystery was solved in an extraordinary cascade of discoveries by Flickr users, and now E.S. Goodwin — Elizabeth Sabin Goodwin — is surely one of the best documented women in the Science Service set.  Washington DC librarian rockcreek got the real breakthrough on July 9, by finding a 1924 wedding announcement from the Washington Post about the impending union of Miss Elizabeth Sabin and Francis Le Baron Goodwin, both artists.  As if that weren’t enough, rockcreek also found Elizabeth Sabin’s high school yearbook photo — with a clear match to the original image.   Flickr user Brenda Anderson followed up the next day with some genealogical explorations, including a New York Times obituary for Elizabeth’s paternal grandfather.   Within hours, Wisconsin-based local history researcher vintagepix posted the obituary for Francis Goodwin, and rockcreek was offering to stop by the cemetery where Elizabeth Sabin Goodwin’s husband and parents were buried (with hopes of finding a tombstone for Elizabeth as well).

Sometimes, it just takes a name and a face … and a lot of volunteers with research skills and a shared love of solving mysteries.

Feeling blue? Cyanotypes across the Commons

Posted by Stephanie Fysh in Across The Commons

Cyanotype is among the earliest of photographic processes, and the examples of its use found in the Commons are all also early. Sir John Herschel invented the cyanotype in 1842, and Anna Atkins was its first active practitioner — and perhaps the first female photographer as well. The New York Public Library photograph below is among many of hers held at the NYPL and available in the Commons on Flickr.

You can read a basic description of the cyanotype process on Wikipedia . Mike Ware is among modern improvers on the process. The Flickr group Cyanotypes is devoted to new examples of this very old technique.

Himanthalia lorea (1843-53)
New York Public Library
Elevated view of the flooded river and West End, Brisbane, 1893
State Library of Queensland, Australia
People indoors, Lysekil, Sweden (1880s)
Swedish National Heritage Board
Jetties Beach, c. 1890s
Nantucket Historical Association

Finding cyanotypes — or photographs of any particular type or process — in the Commons, particularly as it grows larger, depends on terminology being in the photographs descriptions or tags … in the language you look for it in. If you’re browsing the Commons or commenting on a Commons photograph, take a moment to add search terms to tags.

Recent Uploads: Take a Trip!

Posted by zyrcster in Recent Uploads

Your weekly update of newly uploaded images to the Flickr Commons is here, inviting you to take a trip on some legendary trains and ships of yore… but beware of hazards!

Oregon State University Archives reveals a magnificent set of Western U.S. travel lantern slides, depicting missions, universities, and scenic views found along two well-known rail routes in Arizona, California, and Oregon. Be sure to read all the links they provide as this is a really informative set. Palace of Fine Arts-San Francisco, California
Shasta and Sunset Routes
Delightful ships abound in the National Maritime Museum’s photostream! See London, destroyers, barques, and great figureheads. The foredeck of the ‘Carisbrook Castle’ (1898)
Port Cities London
Perhaps you fancy a flight on a hot air balloon? Enjoy stereoscopic travel images, from the National Library of New Zealand. Stereoscopic photograph of a hot air balloon at the Domain, Auckland, 191-?
Nature is a formidable opponent, though, so beware of flooding. Images from the State Library of Queensland, Australia. Burdekin River in flood, 1875
Keep your hands and arms inside the boat, kids! The State Archives and Library of Florida show off their photos of when disaster struck. Various disabled ships, aground after the hurricane of 1899: Dog Island, Florida
Hurricanes in Florida
Escape back to civilization with the State Library of New South Wales to enjoy new uploads from Sam Hood. Her Majesty's Theatre re-opened after the fire, Sydney, 1903; with Governor Sir Henry Rawson in the top left box / A.J. Perier
Discover Collections – Theatre in Sydney
Then it’s on to Lisbon, Portugal with the Biblioteca de Arte-Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian to see photographs from the Estúdio Horácio Novais. Rossio, Lisboa, Portugal
Lisboa: perspectivas gerais e parciais
Don’t miss their exquisite images of Portuguese tiles found in Luanda, Angola. Igreja de Nossa Senhora da Nazaré, Luanda, Angola
We’ll wrap up this week with 50 more Bain News Service images from the Library of Congress. You know there are plenty of mustaches there waiting to be tagged. Parade of Turners at opening Berlin stadium (LOC)
News in the 1910s