Friday Links – “Lugging Around a Camera”
By Ana Brazil
July 9, 2020

Every Second Friday of the Month (that’s today!) one Paper Lantern Writer will share some of their favorite links.

Long ago—in our quest to write historical fiction—we used to share the names of our favorite libraries, librarians, bookstores, archives, and archivists with each other. Now, with so much historical content online, it makes sense to share our links with other historical fiction readers and writers.

We got the link sharing idea from the Two Nerdy History Girls and their weekly Breakfast links. Although the Girls (Loretta Chase and Susan Holloway Scott) have moved on to other ventures, their lists of links is still a great idea for both histfic writers & readers. And it’s an idea that PLW is glad to st…uh, borrow.

Now that I’ve already shared four links with you, I better get on to the real links.

If you’ve read my novel FANNY NEWCOMB & THE IRISH CHANNEL RIPPER (thanks, Mom!) or my short story The Widow Morgan Don’t Take No Moonshine (which has been gracing the editor’s in-box at Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine since mid-OCTOBER), you’ll know that I have a fascination with cameras, photographers, and securing a likeness.

Join me today as I share some of the photographic links that helped me craft FANNY NEWCOMB and The Widow Morgan.

“There are no bad pictures; that’s just how your face looks sometimes.” – President Abraham Lincoln

“Results are uncertain even among the more experienced photographers.” Mathew Brady, Photographer of Abraham Lincoln

I hate to start with images of war, but my historical crime short story The Widow Morgan is set in Gettysburg PA four months after the 1863 Battle. There’s no avoiding the war.

The Library of Congress must have the most extensive archive of digitized photographs from the American Civil War, and you might want to start your LOC journey with Civil War Men and Women: Glimpses of Their Lives Through Photography, which includes extensive essays about the lives and wartime experiences of the men and women photographed.

“Greenhow, Mrs. & daughter (imprisoned in old Capitol Prison in Wash. D.C.) Confederate spy“ from the LOC Brady-Handy Coilection

If you want to go directly to images, consider these individual and group collections:

“It is one thing to photograph people. It is another to make others care about them by revealing the core of their humanness.” 
– Photographer Paul Strand

“If I could tell the story in words, I wouldn’t need to lug around a camera.” – Photographer Lewis Hine

Studio portrait of Waulicomo by C. M. Bell.

While I love a crisp, straight-forward studio photograph of a Gilded Age man or woman, I really prefer the rough and poignant documentary photographs taken by photographers like Paul Strand and Lewis Hines. I employed both types of photography in FANNY NEWCOMB, and here are some links to introduce you to both the beauties and the beasts of Gilded Age photography.

Game of Craps by Lewis Hine.

  • This link doesn’t go to photos, it goes to a fascinating book about photos, The Library of Amateur Photography, Vol I., Elementary Photography (1915). This book has more than you’ll ever want to know about pre-WWI photographic processes and equipment. Believe me. But it might have just the piece of information you need to perfect the story you’re writing.
  • If you’re more interested in things than in people or places, the Gulf South Decorative and Fine Arts Database is for you. These photos chronicle items from the 18th century through the Civil War, which is perfect if you’re writing about Gilded Age New Orleans, because there was little money to buy the latest anything and people made do with what they had.

FINAL LINK!!! Check out the LOC’s Free to Use and Reuse blog. Do you need to include a 19th-Century Portrait in your blog post, book cover, or poster? Or do you seriously need an image of Detroit’s Grand Riviera Theatre in 1925 or JFK & Mrs. K on their wedding day in 1953 or an auto accident in Washington, D. C. in 1922 to make your life complete. The photo you seek may be here!

I have yet to use this 1922 “Auto Accident, Washington, D. C.” photo in one of my historic crime stories, but just you wait. There’s a story to be told from this photo!
Ana Brazil
Written by Ana Brazil

Ana Brazil writes historical crime fiction celebrating bodacious American heroines. She is a member of Sisters in Crime, the Historical Novel Society, and a founding member of Paper Lantern Writers.
Ana’s award-winning historical mystery FANNY NEWCOMB & THE IRISH CHANNEL RIPPER is set in Gilded Age New Orleans. Her upcoming October 17 2023 release is THE RED-HOT BLUES CHANTEUSE, a Viola Vermillion Vaudeville mystery set in 1919 San Francisco.

View Ana’s PLW Profile

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