This blog features old photographs of American life, with a special emphasis on the working life. There’s a special emphasis on child labor, especially as shown in the works of Lewis Hine. The site takes its name from Shorpy Higginbotham, a boy who worked in an Alabama coal mine near the turn of the century, and who appears in several of Hine’s photographs.
When I first came across this site a few months ago, I didn’t really get the point. There’s very little information on the source of the images, although it looks like most come from the Library of Congress, and all are in the public domain based on their age. If all of this is readily available with better cataloging and organization on the American Memory site, why bother with this oddly-named blog?
But I’ve come around. The blog’s format is attractive, with a few selected photographs featured every day. Members can set up their own accounts and contribute their own old photographs, and I’ve seen some interesting ones. There’s just enough organization here to invite browsing, and there’s an active community of users commenting on the photographs.
The real reason this site has become so successful is the photographs themselves. They are well-chosen, compelling images, presented in a nice, large format rather than as thumbnails. Who can resist? Libraries could really use this site as a model for ways to use a blog format to present content and invite discussion.
Shorpy: The 100-Year-Old Photoblog — Check it out for yourself