Historicity

The NY Daily News has a feature on historical pictures which have been altered. Stalin’s airbrushing out of photos anyone who he wanted politically disappeared is a well known act of totalitarian historical revisionism. Less well known is Fidel Castro’s similar antics. This is from no.12 of the slide show:

COURTESY OF FOURANDSIX
Fidel Castro (r.) approved a Soviet intervention in Czechoslovakia in the summer of 1968 causing Carlos Franqui (bottom c.) to split with Castro’s regime. Castro then decided to split with any images including Franqui.

Franqui wrote:

discover my photographic death.

Do I exist?
I am a little black,
I am a little white,
I am a little shit,
On Fidel’s vest.

While I’m here, some links via Entdinglichung: From Wiesbadener Kurier on Rudolf Rocker (DE) in the Guardian a biographical interview with Selma James (EN), the Fundación Andreu Nin recall the stalinist disappearing of Andreu Nin und Camillo Berneri 75 years ago in  Barcelona (ES). In Libcom, notes on some key battles in the class struggle: The Finnish Class War 1918 (1993),  The 1946 General Strike of Rochester, New York (2007) and The occupation of the factories: Paris 1936, Flint 1937 (1999), plus Emma Goldman on The Social Importance of the Modern School (19??). And in Anti-Fascist Archive: K. Bullstreet: Bash the Fash: Anti-Fascist Recollections, 1984-1993 (199?); London Anti-Fascist Action: Filling the Vacuum (1995); and Newspaper Articles on Red Action and Anti-Fascist Action from The Guardian (1983-1996).

Library of Congress photography

I know I have featured the amazing photography collection of the Library of Congress more than once in the past, but am not sure if I have featured its blog, Picture This. Here are some recent entries:

A Window on the Bolshevik Revolution

February 23rd, 2012 by Kristi Finefield

When James Maxwell Pringle departed for Russia in November 1917, his intent was to visit the Petrograd (St. Petersburg) branch of his employer, National City Bank. His business trip turned into an unexpected window on the Bolshevik Revolution. Arriving in Petrograd in the days just after the October Revolution, when Bolshevik forces overthrew the Russian …


Petrograd – Scenes of the burial of the victims of the March Revolution on the Field of Mars. Photos by James Maxwell Pringle, betw. 1917 and 1918. http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/ppmsca.31329

Arriving in Petrograd in the days just after the October Revolution, when Bolshevik forces overthrew the Russian Provisional Government, the photo album Pringle compiled is peppered with the effects of the conflict.  His photographs in Moscow, Petrograd, and other Russian cities show bullet-riddled buildings, prisoners, parades and marches, ceremonies to memorialize those killed and everyday Russians living amidst the turmoil.

Moscow – Results of the Fighting. Photo by James Maxwell Pringle, betw. 1917 and 1918. http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/ppmsca.31325

This photo album was a recent gift to the Prints and Photographs Division by Pringle’s nephew, Robert M. Pringle, and offers a unique outsider’s perspective on the internal conflict that eventually reshaped Russia into the Soviet Union.  The photos document his travels through Russia and into Asia over the course of many months as he made his way back to the U.S. with a group of travel companions.

Pringle’s album joins the Library’s strong collections of personal photo albums and extensive research resources on the history of Russia and the Soviet Union. A selection of images from the album has been digitized and the full album can be viewed by appointment in the Prints and Photographs Reading Room.

Learn More:

Visible Resistance: Civil Rights Photographs

February 1st, 2012 by Barbara Orbach Natanson

Students at the Woolworth's lunch counter on the second day of the sit-in, Greensboro, North Carolina

Students at the Woolworth’s lunch counter on the second day of the sit-in, Greensboro, North Carolina. UPI photo, 1960 Feb. 2. http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/ppmsca.08095

On February 1, 1960, four young men sat down at the Woolworth’s lunch counter in Greensboro, North Carolina, and ordered coffee and doughnuts.  More than fifty years later, this may not seem like a daring act, but it was.  First the waitress and then the store manager explained that the lunch counter was reserved for white people and that they could not serve the four freshmen from the nearby Agricultural & Technical College, because they were African American.

The four men– Ezell Blair, Jr., Franklin McCain, David Richmond, and Joseph McNeil–refused to leave, and the next day fellow students joined the sit-in. As news of the protest spread, African Americans sat down at segregated lunch counters elsewhere in the South, and picketers demonstrated in front of Woolworth stores in New York City, even though segregation was not practiced at their lunch counters.

One-man demonstration at a closed lunch counter in Nashville

One-man demonstration at a closed lunch counter in Nashville. UPI photo, 1960 March 25. http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/cph.3c35490

Protest by ministers

Protest by ministers. AP photo, 1960. http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/ppmsca.08096

Photographs of the sit-ins distributed by the news wire services convey the resolve of the students, the hostile reaction they endured, as well as the impact on lunch counter business.  The images helped raise  awareness of racial injustice and growing resistance to it.  Today they offer a continuing reminder of the many individual acts of courage that made up the Civil Rights movement.

Civil rights march on Washington, D.C.

Civil rights march on Washington, D.C. Photo by Warren K. Leffler for U.S News & World Report, 1963 Aug. 28. http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/ppmsca.04297

Our pictorial collections document many events of the Civil Rights era.  We have digitized quite a few of the images, and  hundreds more can be viewed with an on-site visit.  Because of rights considerations, many digitized images from the period display only in small size outside Library of Congress buildings, but we also have images that have no known restrictions on publication, with digital images that can be seen in greater detail from anywhere.  We have assembled a selection of such images in our reference aid, “The Civil Rights Era in the U.S. News & World Report Photographs Collection: A Select List .”

As we begin African American History Month, we hope that the pictures and many other resources of the Library of Congress offer an opportunity to learn and to reflect.

Learn more:

Photography: Sergio Larrain/Lewis Hine

“And one by one the nights between our separated cities are joined to the night that unites us.” –  Pablo Neruda

I just saw that Sergio Larrain, the great Chilean photographer, died last month.

“Sergio Larrain began photographing the famous Chilean port in the 1950s but it was not until 1963 that he spent more time there, this time, in the company of the poet Pablo Neruda. The text and photographs in Valparaiso were published in the journal Du in 1966. But it had to wait until 1991 before it was published as a book, which has since gained a cult following. Not only did Sergio Larrain ceaselessly climb the narrow streets, the stairs, and the hills of this city frozen in time, but he also shed light on an entire bohemian lifestyle in the neighborhoods nearby the port, which then counted some one hundred brothels and cabarets. The result is a series of pictures that has become an essential reference in the work of this photographer who escapes categorization.”–Magnum Photos

What nonsense/You are/What a crazy/Insane Port./
Your mounded head/Disheveled/You never finish combing your hair/Life has always surprised you

- Pablo Neruda

***

Not long ago, I posted about some of the wonderful photos to be found on the Daily Mail website, often from the Library of Congress website. Here are some more.

Working as an investigative photographer for the National Child Labor Committee, sociologist Lewis Hine documented working and living conditions of children in the United States between 1908 and 1924. In a series of poignant photographs, Mr Hine documented children who were sent to work soon after they could walk, and were paid based on how many buckets of oysters they shucked daily. The advent of industrialisation at the turn of the 20th century meant an exploitation of child labour, as factory workers often saw children as a cheaper, more manageable alternative to older workers.

Spanish Revolution and Civil War gallery

A wonderful gallery at Libcom. Here’s just a taste – go enjoy the real thing.

Militia woman.Unidentified black soldier.Burned out cars after the defeat of Franco's forces in Barcelona, 1936.Madrid, July 1936.Spanish Civil War and Revolution photo gallery, 1936-39Demonstration, Puerta del Sol, Madrid.Anarchists in Madrid.Collectivised CNT tram, Barcelona.Collectivised tram.Spanish Civil War and Revolution photo gallery, 1936-39.Anarchist militia women.Workers' barricades.Workers' barricades.Militia men and women leave for the front in Barcelona.Spanish Civil War and Revolution photo gallery, 1936-39.Speech from bricklayer and CNT member Cipriano Mera.Spanish Civil War and Revolution photo gallery, 1936-39.The Durruti Column.Workers' barricades, Barcelona, July 1936.Workers on the barricades, Barcelona, 1936.Workers' barricades.Tereul, Aragon Front, 1938.Militias in training, Catalunya.Militia woman in training, Barcelona.Militia women in training, Barcelona.Boy wearing cap of “Union de Hermanos Proletarios”, Barcelona.Spanish anarcho-syndicalist, Buenaventura Durruti (centre).Durruti's funeral.Supporters at Durruti's funeral.Supporters carrying coffin at Durruti's funeral.Spanish Civil War and Revolution photo gallery, 1936-39

The Civil War in 3D

Going deeper back into American history than the photos I linked to here, The Atlantic has a series on the photography of the American Civil War. Here’s the rather portentous intro:

Last year marked the 150th anniversary of the start of the American Civil War, a milestone commemorated by The Atlantic in a special issue (now available online). Although photography was still in its infancy, war correspondents produced thousands of images, bringing the harsh realities of the frontlines to those on the home front in a new and visceral way. As brother fought brother and the nation’s future grew uncertain, the public appetite for information was fed by these images from the trenches, rivers, farms, and cities that became fields of battle.

Part 2 focuses on the people; part 3 is some stereographs , 3D images.

Frederick Douglass, ca. 1879. Born a slave in Maryland, Douglass escaped as a young man, eventually becoming an influential social reformer, a powerful orator and a leader of the abolitionist movement. (George K. Warren/NARA) # 
[When I was a child, my father had this photograph of Frederick Douglass above his desk, and I was fascinated by this stern, austere man and his piercing gaze.]

A group of Contrabands at Haxall’s Mill, Richmond, Virginia, on June 9, 1865. [click on image to view 3-D animationTo view a red/blue anaglyph version of this photo, click here. (Alexander Gardner/LOC) #
Contraband was a term commonly used in the United States military during the American Civil War to describe a new status for certain escaped slaves or those who affiliated with Union forces after the military (and the United States Congress) determined that the US would not return escaped slaves who went to Union lines to their former Confederate masters and classified them as contraband. They used many as laborers to support Union efforts and soon began to pay them wages. The former slaves set up camps near Union forces, and the Army helped support and educate both adults and children among the refugees. Thousands of men from these camps enlisted in the United States Colored Troops when recruitment started in 1863…
While becoming a “contraband” did not mean full freedom, many slaves considered it a step in that direction. The day after Butler’s decision, many more escaped slaves found their way to Fort Monroe and appealed to become contraband. As the number of former slaves grew too large to be housed inside the Fort, the contrabands erected housing outside the crowded base from the burned ruins of the City of Hampton left behind by the Confederates. They called their new settlement Grand Contraband Camp (which they nicknamed “Slabtown”). By the end of the war in April 1865, less than four years later, an estimated 10,000 escaped slaves had applied to gain “contraband” status, with many living nearby

Reasons to read the Daily Mail, nos.1-2

The first in a (probably short) series.

As well as this moving story of negro American WWII soldiers’ photos rescued from the trash can, look at these amazing colour photos of America just before WWII.

Dressed for action: A female aircraft worker at the Vega Aircraft Corporation in around 1940

Dressed for action: A female aircraft worker at the Vega Aircraft Corporation in around 1940

Squalor: A photograph of a Chicago railway yard believed to have been taken in the late 1930s

Squalor: A photograph of a Chicago railway yard believed to have been taken in the late 1930s

 Character: Jim Norris a homesteader from Pie Town, New Mexico pictured in October 1940
Jim Norris a homesteader from Pie Town, New Mexico pictured in October 1940
Day laborers picking cotton, near Clarksdale, Miss. 1939 Nov.
Day laborers picking cotton, near Clarksdale, Mississippi in November  1939
Published in: on February 9, 2012 at 6:10 pm  Comments (1)  
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Poumerouma

The libertarian socialist tradition

New blog: Big Flame, on the history of this UK radical group of the 1970s.

Why Philosophy? Why Now? On the Revolutionary Legacies of Raya Dunayevskaya, CLR James and Anton Pannekoek, By David Black at The Hobgoblin

Andre Gorz, or the Ecological Demand, by Serge Audier at Principia Dialectica.

Anarchist Studies: Perspective 2009. On the legacy of Murray Bookchin.

Poster art, folk song and historical memory

More from BCNDesign: The everyday comes to Santa Coloma: Local things for local history. Graphic design in 1930s Spain.

History Today: The Mexican suitcase. British volunteers and Republican posters.

Rio Wang: Russian poster design and the war on coca-cola. Carlos Gordel and the zorzal.

George Szirtes: Fado da Tristeza.

Polish gentile, Jan Jagielski, chief archivist at the Emanuel Ringelblum Jewish Historical Institute in Warsaw, to receive the Irena Sendler Memorial Award from the Taube Foundation for Jewish Life and Culture.

The extraordinary anti-Nazi photo-montages of John Heartfield.

Scoop Review of Books: Kiwi Compañeros: NZ’s anti-Franco volunteers. See more in TNC‘s comment here. Which led me to these two great older posts: Fieldtrip to the International Center for Photography (Robert Capa, Gerda Taro, Francesc Torres and poster art). ¿Viva la Insurgencía?: The Spanish Civil War and the Legacy of the Totalitarian International Brigades. There’s plenty more TNC posts on memory and archives and on Communism.

Watch Land and Freedom at A Complex System of Pipes.

From the archive of struggle, no.14 (below the fold) (more…)

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