19th century photography


a few pages from the 19th century diary of miss elizabeth aveling. i don’t know who she was or where she was from, but holding her diary of sketches and daydreams was transcendent. 

life in a bookshop, no. 20
photo by celeste noche

A lot has changed since 1887.

This before-and-after view of the National Mall shows how different the space looks from 1887, when the first photo was taken, to 2015. (Oh hi there, @nmaahc!)

The photographs are from Smithsonian Institution Archives, who’ve kept track of how we look (and much more) through the ages. See more then-and-now photos in their blog post


This is one of the strangest and most mysterious books on the shelves of the Archie McPhee Library. Haunted Air [Buy on Amazon], by British musician and artist Ossian Brown, is a fascinating collection of anonymous Halloween photographs taken between circa 1875 and 1955. They’re all from Brown’s personal collection and are presented without any context. In fact the only text in the entire book is the all too perfect foreword written by the inimitable David Lynch.

“The photographs in Haunted Air provide an extraordinary glimpse into the traditions of this macabre festival from ages past, and form an important document of photographic history. These are the pictures of the dead: family portraits, mementos of the treasured, now unrecognizable, and others.”

Each page contains a single bewitching photograph - a simple layout that makes the photos even creepier and more captivating. Without any background information, these haunting pieces of Americana have only each other for company. That is, until you start looking at them, wondering about them, making up stories for them. On the pages of this book, every day truly is Halloween.

[Photos from Haunted Air via NPR]