|Unpacking the head of the Statue of Liberty, 1885|
|Baby cages used to ensure that children get enough sunlight and fresh air when living in an apartment building, ca. 1937|
The phrase “a picture is worth a thousand words” was coined by American newspaper editor Arthur Brisbane in 1911. It’s a simple notion that applies to many aspects of our lives, but especially to historical photography. Sometimes, one simple picture can tell you more about history than any story you might read or any document you might analyze.
These photographs all tell stories about the historical figures or events that they represent. Once taken simply to document their present, they now help us witness the past. Many photographs only become iconic shots years later, once we understand their importance and historical context. From historical landmarks and famous people to the basic daily routines of the past, these pictures portray the past in a way that we can empathize with and understand more intimately.
Perhaps the wars, poverty, fights for freedom and little miracles of the past have lessons for us that we can use today?