|John Vachon, Workers leaving Pennsylvania shipyards, Beaumont, Texas, 1943. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, FSA/OWI Color Photographs Collection, LC-USW36-839.|
Southern Spaces recently added six new images to the rotating selection on our home page’s nameplate. We selected these images from the newly digitized Library of Congress collection of Farm Security Administration/Office of War Information Color Photographs. This collection includes 1,600 color photographs taken between 1939 and 1944. Many of the images depict rural farming practices, social life in towns, factories and their environmental effects, and aspects of World War II mobilization.
The FSA/OWI Color Photographs collection complements the LoC’s Farm Security Administration/Office of War Information Black-and-White Negatives collection which, with 175,000 images, dwarfs the color collection. The black-and-white collection includes such iconic images as Dorothea Lange’s 1936 Migrant Mother photograph and images by Let Us Now Praise Famous Men photographer Walker Evans.
These black and white photographs—many of which represent places in the US South—have become seared into the southern imaginary. Calling up associations of segregation and depression-era rural poverty, the photographs both tie the present-day South to these associations, and due to their black and white format, consign them to the distant past. Mediated by this representation, the South itself becomes separated from the present.
In color, however, these images present themselves as relevant to the present, rather than consigned to the past. By displaying the problems they depict—such as segregation, poverty, and environmental degradation—in a contemporary form, the images imply that such problems may continue to be critical today.
Southern Spaces will be posting images from the FSA/OWI Color Photographs collection, with captions, to our Featured Images series in the months to come. The images we chose to include in our banner are collected below.
|John Vachon, Southland Paper mill, Kraft (chemical) pulp used in making newsprint, Lufkin, Texas, 1943. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, FSA/OWI Color Photographs Collection, LC-USW36-836.|
|Arthur Rothstein, Community clothesline, FSA camp, Robstown, Texas, 1942. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, FSA/OWI Color Photographs Collection, LC-USF35-299.|
|John Vachon, Nearly exhausted sulphur vat from which railroad cars are loaded, Freeport Sulphur Co., Hoskins Mound, Texas, 1943. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, FSA/OWI Color Photographs Collection, LC-USW36-825.|
|Marion Post Wolcott, A train bringing copper ore out of the mine; fumes from smelting copper for sulfuric acid have destroyed all vegetation and eroded the land, Ducktown, Tennessee, 1939. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, FSA/OWI Color Photographs Collection, LC-USF35-103.|
|Marion Post Wolcott, Burley tobacco is placed on sticks to wilt after cutting, before it is taken into the barn for drying and curing on the Russell Spears' farm, vicinity of Lexington, Kentucky, 1940. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, FSA/OWI Color Photographs Collection, LC-USF35-165.|
Finding media is a big issue for us here at Southern Spaces. We’re constantly searching for new photographers to highlight in our Featured Images section, and we’re often tasked with helping authors find usable photos, video, and audio clips. This is not always an uncomplicated task: discerning which media are in the public domain or eligible for fair use can seem daunting. (Though I highly recommend the Center for the Study of the Public Domain’s graphic novel Bound By Law for an entertaining explanation of fair use.)
We have a few favorite sites and search strategies for finding useable media:
- Public Domain and US Government works: The term "public domain" can be a little tricky—there are a number of caveats and exceptions, but I’ve found this chart from Lolly Gasaway at the University of North Carolina to be especially helpful. One of the general rules is that work produced before 1923, like this image from Lewis Hine, is in the public domain. Fortunately for us, work produced by the US government is also in the public domain. This satellite image is from NASA, and we’ve used images from the Army Corps of Engineers and FEMA. The Library of Congress has an extensive collection of prints, manuscripts, photographs, audio recordings, and film, and many—though not all—are digitized and available for public use.
- Creative Commons: Creative Commons allows users to license their own work for public use as an alternative to ordinary copyright. Creators can choose a number of different licenses, specifying what kinds of uses are permitted. CC also offers a useful search function, allowing a user to find particular types of media that are available for modification, adaption, or commercial use. Wikimedia Commons is a great resource for Creative Commons-licensed work, including images, sound, and video. We often find new photographers on Flickr through the CC search, but it’s always a good idea to double-check with the author whenever possible. We found images from the 2011 Tuscaloosa, Alabama tornado by searching Flickr in this way.
- Internet Archive: With a massive collection of digitized texts, music, film, and audio, Archive.org can be a great resource for researchers. Some of this work is in the public domain, and the site also provides CC licenses for many of its pieces. Describing itself as a "digital library," the Internet Archive is a repository for media that can be difficult to find. When we were looking for a film clip that illustrated post-World War II attitudes towards Japan in the United States for Aiko Takeuchi-Demirci’s article, we came across a 1946 newsreel in the public domain.
- Libraries and Archives: We approach repositories for permission to use their materials. Institutions may be willing to provide media if you simply ask. Emory’s Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library has helped us locate and digitize materials that would otherwise be difficult to find. We recently worked with the librarians at MARBL to locate drawings of the Scottsboro Boys for an article by Ellen Spears. Other libraries and archives have also been great resources; the Virginia Historical Society provided images of visitors to the site when we contacted them for William G. Thomas III’s piece about the VHS’s exhibition on the Civil War in Virginia. Libraries and archives may require payment for media reproduction, but we find that many are willing to assist researchers.
- Self-Produced Work: Occasionally, we produce media ourselves. Almost all of the maps on the site are made by staff members, as well as many other pieces of media. For Joseph Crespino’s essay on the Strom Thurmond monument, we asked a friend of the staff in Columbia to take a picture of the statue. We encourage authors to produce their own media if possible.
How do you find media for publication?
Welcome to the Southern Spaces blog. Since our first publication in 2004, Southern Spaces has been invested in peer-reviewed, multi-media, open-access scholarship. Over the past few years, we have redesigned our website, updated our audio and video, and significantly expanded our readership. As an online journal working at the intersection of a number of scholarly disciplines, we find ourselves in the midst of exciting conversations about the nature of digital publishing.
We hope to continue engaging in these discussions by cultivating relationships with a diverse range of scholars and providing a platform for interested readers to participate. We plan for this blog to be a space for dialogue about scholarship and current events, for connections to other scholarly communities, and for discussing our digital publication processes.
Our blog will:
- Explore our publication process. We will describe our editorial processes, interview authors, and write about how a Southern Spaces publication is built.
- Consider our work in the context of digital publishing and the digital humanities. We will examine issues of open access and peer review, talk about finding and presenting multimedia scholarship, and share great tools and vexing questions.
- Discuss contemporary and significant issues in the study of the US South. From the redistricting of Texas, to the announcement of a new cultural non-profit collecting 78rpm records, to the use of Confederate flags at Croatian soccer games, we will present short, scholarly posts about subjects that engage with southern spaces.
- Provide a space where people can engage with our work, through guest posts and commenting. We hope that this blog will also connect people to our current and past publications on Southern Spaces. We hope that people will use it as an entry point to explore our journal. We hope that our posts here may even serve as sources of inspiration for future essays, videos, and presentations. Further, while most of the posts will be written by our staff, we are excited about publishing posts by scholars, teachers, artists, and other interested people. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in writing for us. Finally, we are excited to include a commenting feature on our blog. For years, we have discussed the role of commenting on Southern Spaces (which will be the subject of a future post), and we are happy to take this step toward fostering meaningful dialogue with our readership.
Thank you for joining us in this new endeavor, and please do check out our most recent journal publications by visiting our home page!