Thursday, 18 December 2014

Ladies of the brave new world

The rare and remarkable images that show how women played a key role in the forging of the United States

It is all too easy to imagine the building of modern America as a male enterprise, the work of grizzled and hirsute gold prospectors, cowboys and revolutionaries. But women played a key role in the forging of this brave new world, as these remarkable historic images reveal.

Taken from Marc Walter’s private collection of photochroms and Phostint postcards, and now brought together in a spectacular new Taschen volume, the images off er a rarely seen glimpse of American life, in colour, between 1888 and 1924.

Produced by the Detroit Photographic Company, they show the diversity of the future superpower in the late 19th and early 20th centuries and draw back the curtain on the role of women within it. They off er an extraordinary voyage through the past – you will never see the United States in the same way again.

An American Odyssey: Photos From The Detroit Photographic Company 1888-1924, by Marc Walter, is published by Taschen, priced £135.

America-Dec19-02-590Left: The images of the Detroit Photographic Company are an eloquent testimony to the profound economic and social repercussions of the Civil War on the Southern states. This image is labelled Mammy. Right: Elle of Ganado, also called Asdzaa Lichii’ (Red Woman) in Navajo, was born to the Black Sheep Clan and lived in the southern part of the Navajo Reservation in Ganado, Arizona. She was about 50 years old when this picture was taken in 1903. She spent time in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where together with other Navajo families, she worked as an arts and crafts demonstrator within the burgeoning tourist industry
America-Dec19-03-590Old Orchard Beach was one of the most beautiful and popular on the entire New England coastline. A casino and several grand hotels were built to accommodate the tourists
America-Dec19-05-590Left: Chicago experienced a building and population boom at the turn of the 20th century. Here some ladies are on their way to State Street, which remains one of the great shopping streets in Chicago (glass negative, 1910- 1915). Right: Portland was the € rst capital of the state of Maine (1820-1832). Early in the 20th century, its commercial port was one of the most active on the whole of the East Coast. This is a glass negative from 1905
America-Dec19-07-590At Henry McAlpin’s plantation, the Hermitage, in Savannah, Georgia, African- American slaves cultivated rice and laboured in the brickworks. This image is labelled Happy Family
America-Dec19-08-590Left: Ladies relaxing by their home on Main Street, Nantucket, Massachusetts. Right: Nathaniel Hawthorne’s Gothic novel, The House Of The Seven Gables, was inspired by a real house in Salem. Here, the girl in pink is dressed as the main character, Phoebe


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