The Erich Salomon Collection consists of two groups of gelatin silver prints from 1927-1943, totaling 140 prints. There is some duplication between the groups. Accession 2002.0258 was acquired in 1965 from Salomon’s son, Peter Hunter. These prints were made from Salomon’s original negatives. Accession 2002.0259 was acquired in 1965 from Magnum Photos. Subjects in the collection are mainly photographs of politicians, diplomats, business magnates, royalty; European and American.
Keywords: photojournalism, journalism, visual culture, print history, media history, Holocaust victim
Dr. Erich Salomon (1886-1944) was born to a prominent Jewish family in Berlin, Germany. He became a lawyer before the outbreak of World War I but was drafted into service. When he returned, his family had lost its fortune and he needed to work. Salomon became interested in photography and soon specialized in taking photographs where cameras were not allowed and without his subject’s knowledge.
Salomon became famous in 1928 when his photographs from the Johann Hein murder trial in Coburg, Germany were published in the Berliner Illustrirte newspaper [see images PG*008164.42 and PG*008164.47]. From that point, Salomon became a freelance photographer, gaining admittance to even the most secure meetings and banquets. Salomon was labeled the first “candid cameraman” and called himself a bildjournalist, still the German word for “photojournalist.”
Salomon first used the common journalist’s camera – a 13 x 18 cm Contessa Nettel – but it was too cumbersome for his purposes. He soon switched to the Ermanox, a small plate-loaded camera perfect for photographing in low lighting. Salomon mastered the technique and used it until 1932 when he traded it for the Leica.
In 1933 Adolf Hitler came to power in Germany. As Jews, Salomon and his family were forced to flee to Holland, his wife’s homeland, for protection. Based in The Hague, he had greater access to the political conferences but he also began taking photographs of cultural events, such as concerts. Salomon traveled to Britain and the United States as well. In 1943, while on the verge of immigrating to America, Salomon, his wife and one son were forced to go into hiding when the Nazis overtook Holland. They were eventually deported and died at the Auschwitz labor camp in July 1944.
Salomon’s images survive to this day because of his foresight. In order to keep the negatives safe he hid them in three separate places in Holland during the war. The first group was placed in the Dutch Parliament library. The second, he buried in the chicken coup at a friend’s home. This group was critically damaged by the dampness, though many of the plates are still printable. The third was in the custody of son Peter Hunter. In 1952, the collection was consolidated in Amsterdam. Beginning in the 1950s, there were a number of exhibitions of his work, including a 1958 traveling exhibition which was acquired by the Smithsonian.
For more images by Erich Salomon search collections.si.edu.
World War II was a global conflict affecting all regions of the world, including West Africa. Africans from British and French colonies fought all over the world in the militaries of their colonizers. When Germany invaded France in 1940, Africans in French colonies were divided between the Vichy government in West Africa and the Free French resistance in Central Africa. The currencies issued by the two separate governments illustrate this divide.
Photographic History Collection: Eadweard Muybridge
This is a small sampling of Eadweard Muybridge Collections in the Photographic History Collection. The collection contains stereoviews, a Yosemite portfolio printed by Chicago Albumen Works, collotypes, cyanotype proof prints, glass plate positives, Zoopraxiscope glass plates, lantern slides, a timing device, a patent model, shutter, and more.
For more, search collections.si.edu.
Keywords: stop action, stop motion, freeze frame, motion picture, cyanotypes, stereographs, Yosemite, Modoc Wars, California history, University of Pennsylvania, science and photography
See also the online exhibition at the National Museum of American History, Freeze Frame, https://americanhistory.si.edu/exhibitions/freeze-frame-eadweard-muybridge%E2%80%99s-photography-motion.
Expatriate Englishman Eadweard Muybridge (1830–1904), a brilliant and eccentric photographer, gained worldwide fame photographing animal and human movement imperceptible to the human eye. Hired by railroad baron Leland Stanford in 1872, Muybridge used photography to prove that there was a moment in a horse’s gallop when all four hooves were off the ground at once. He spent much of his later career at the University of Pennsylvania, producing thousands of images that capture progressive movements within fractions of a second.
By the 1860s, Eadweard Muybridge, born Edward James Muggeridge in Kingston-upon-Thames, England, had reinvented himself as Helios, one of San Francisco’s most important landscape photographers. His fame brought him to the attention of Leland Stanford, former governor of California, who hired Muybridge to get a picture that would settle a hotly debated issue: Is there a moment in a horse’s gait when all four hooves are off the ground at once? Muybridge took up the challenge in 1872. In 1878, he succeeded in taking a sequence of photographs with 12 cameras that captured the moment when the animal’s hooves were tucked under its belly. Publication of these photographs made Muybridge an international celebrity.
It took six years to produce the photographs Stanford sought. Muybridge’s experiments were interrupted in 1874 when he went on trial for the murder of his wife’s lover. Acquitted on grounds of justifiable homicide, he spent two years photographing in Central America before returning to Stanford’s farm. In 1878, Muybridge finally succeeded in photographing the horse in motion.
Muybridge used the wet plate process, a relatively slow method of photography. The resulting images were hardly more than silhouettes, but they showed what had never before been seen by the unaided eye.
Eadweard Muybridge traveled to Europe for a lecture tour in the fall of 1881. In Paris, Etienne-Jules Marey introduced him to the artistic and scientific luminaries of the age. This triumphal tour inspired Muybridge to seek additional funding to undertake an even more complex investigation into animal and human locomotion.
In the summer of 1883, the University of Pennsylvania agreed to fund such a project. University Provost Dr. William Pepper placed the grounds of the new Veterinary Department at Muybridge’s disposal, and a university committee was formed to oversee the project. Muybridge began making photographs in the spring of 1884.
Muybridge photographed his subjects moving in front of a black wall marked off with a grid of white threads. He used up to 36 lenses with 12 to 24 cameras, placed at 30-, 60-, and 90-degree angles to his subjects. The two cameras placed at 30- and 60-degrees were able to hold up to 12 lenses each. The 90-degree angle was known as the lateral, or parallel, view, while the others Muybridge referred to as the front and rear foreshortenings. With this set-up, a successful session could result in as many as 36 negatives.
Muybridge’s cyanotypes are working proofs, the contact prints he made from the more than 20,000 negatives he took at the University of Pennsylvania. Since the original negatives no longer exist, the cyanotypes provide us with the opportunity to see the pictures Muybridge really made, before he edited and cropped them for publication.
The Process Muybridge used up to 36 lenses with 12 to 24 cameras, placed at 30-, 60-, and 90-degree angles to his subjects. The two cameras placed at 30- and 60-degrees were able to hold up to 12 lenses each. The 90-degree angle was known as the lateral, or parallel, view, while the others Muybridge referred to as the front and rear foreshortenings. With this set-up, a successful session could result in as many as 36 negatives.
Muybridge contact-printed his negatives as cyanotypes, the working proofs.
Using these cyanotypes as his guide, he enlarged each negative onto a separate piece of glass and assembled these positives into large glass plate composites (C). From these composites, the Photogravure Company, New York, produced a gelatin negative. The final print, called a collotype, was printed in ink from a plate prepared from this negative.
Over 800 sets of proofs exist in the unique collection found in the Photographic History Collection of the National Museum of American History. Comparisons between Muybridge’s working cyanotype proofs and his final collotype prints prove that he freely reprinted, cropped, deleted, or substituted negatives to make the assemblage of 781 collotypes in the portfolio Animal Locomotion. The Muybridge cyanotypes may be found in the online exhibit Freeze Frame: Eadweard Muybridge’s Photography of Motion.
The collection also includes prints from Muybridge’s five-month trip to the Yosemite Valley in 1867, which yielded 260 published views, 160 of them stereographs. His were among the most celebrated images taken of the Valley. By the late 1860s, the widespread circulation of Yosemite images had made the region a mythic American landscape, redolent of the grandeur, expansiveness, and power Americans had come to associate with the West and, by extension, the nation as a whole.
For more information on Eadweard Muybridge in the Smithsonian Collection see:
Starting in the late 1950s, African nations became independent from European colonial powers. They used their new currencies to demonstrate their sovereignty by replacing European heads of state with national leaders. The new national coins and banknotes also depicted indigenous currencies like cowrie shells in Ghana and kissi pennies in Liberia, celebrating African cultural heritage.
How did colonialism affect the lives and livelihoods of Africans? The kinds of money people used can provide some clues. This collection contains coins and notes introduced by the colonial powers which Africans received in return for the sale of produce and used for paying taxes. It also includes cowrie shells, kissi pennies and manillas, which Africans often used to buy everyday goods in local markets despite colonial government policies banning them.
This is a sampling of tintypes and cameras used to make tintypes from the Photographic History Collection.
This sampling includes works by contemporary photographer Ed Drew, of Native Americans and military personnel. These works are copyrighted by Ed Drew.
This sampling includes tintypes that are cased and uncased, in paper mats, in album pages, in frames, and often just the tintype plate itself. Some are lightly colored and others heavily painted.
Keywords: tintype, ferrotype, melaniotype, occupational portrait, portrait photography, studio photography, exterior portrait
Note: For additional images search collections.si.edu. The Scovil Company, held by the Division of Work & Industry, holds a particularly interesting group of pins and buttons with photography of Abraham Lincoln, Ulysses S. Grant, and others who ran for office. The Military History Collection also holds tintypes of soldiers and other military related themes.
The NMAH Photographic History Collection (PHC) has over 3000 tintype photographs dating from the beginnings of the process in 1856 to the present. ‘Tintype’ was coined and became the favored name.
Tintypes in the PHC are found in albums, the Kaynor Union Case collection, and as individual photographs. The original tintype process patent was assigned to William and Peter Neff in 1856. William Neff died a short time later, but his son Peter, who named the process Melainotype, continued on with his work. The earliest tintypes in the PHC are a group of more than thirty Peter Neff Melainotypes, some of which date back to 1856 and contain notes written by Peter Neff. Shortly after the Melainotype, Victor Griswold introduced a very similar process on thinner, lighter iron plates and called them Ferrotypes. The PHC has tintypes ranging from rare large images between 5”x7” and 10”x12”down to small images cut to 6mm diameter to fit jewelry. The Melainotypes are between 1/6 plate and 4”x5” in size and many have indistinct images. There are also unexposed Melainotype plates including a pack of 1/6 plates and large whole-plates with four decorated oval borders that were designed to be cut into smaller quarter plates after exposure.
The great majority of tintype photographs are studio portraits, including the very popular ‘Gem’ size (about ¾” x 1”). Almost every gem tintype in the PHC is an individual head and shoulders portraits, the only exceptions seen being a full length portrait and a head and shoulders portrait of a couple. Most of these gem portraits are in small gem albums designed to hold two to six gems per page. However, several gems are mounted on cartes-de-visite (CDV) size cards and set in specifically designed album pages. Some of these CDV mounted gems are in elaborate miniature frames attached to the card. The tintypes larger than gem size show a greater variety of subject matter, but still with a main focus on individual portraits, this is especially true of the smaller 1/16 and 1/9 plate images. The most common outdoor subjects noted are people standing in front of their homes and photographs of people proudly standing with, or sitting on, their horse or horses and buggy. One of the largest tintypes is a 9”x 7” outdoor view of a row of townhouses with a couple standing on one of the balconies. There is also an outdoor tintype of men fishing along with another of their days catch.
One common subject in tintype photography, as noted in textbooks, is the civil war soldier. The durability of the tintype meant that photographs taken in the field could be sent home. However, this category of tintype is not well represented in the PHC, with less than thirty noted due to the fact that the majority of the Smithsonian’s Civil War tintypes are located mainly in the Military History Collection. Most of the PHC examples of Civil War tintypes are in the Kaynor collection of cased images.
Some of the tintypes in the PHC are hand-colored. This coloring varies from light tinting of faces and hands to heavy overpainting that obscures the underlying tintype image. A number of tintypes, occupational views, depict people with the apparatus of their occupations. Some are posed studio shots and others appear to be photographs of people at their place of work. Among the occupational views are images of milk maids, doctor, grocery delivery man, weavers, fireman, ice delivery man, craftsman, cobbler, shoe shiners, mail carrier, surveyor, pipe liners, and other tintypes of people wearing work clothes and posing with tools.
Murray Becker was one of the key photographers of the Hindenburg disaster, the crash of a Nazi dirigible at Lakehurst, NJ on May 6, 1937. The Murray Becker collection consists predominantly of sixteen silver gelatin prints of the Hindenburg disaster. It also includes an oversized scrapbook of newspaper articles and photos covering the disaster, as well as a well-known photograph of a teary-eyed Lou Gehrig announcing his retirement from baseball.
Keywords: Hindenburg disaster, Associated Press, AP, Lou Gehrig, photojournalism, dirigible, flight disaster, photojournalism, media history, iconic photographs, scrapbooking
On May 6, 1937 Becker and a score of other photographers, including Sam Shere of the International News Photo (INP) and Charles Hoff of the New York Daily News, appeared for a routine night landing of the Hindenburg. As the dirigible pulled in, lines were dropped from the aircraft so that it could be safely reined in to the ground below. Without warning, an explosion was heard, and the entire aircraft was consumed by flame in about 47 seconds. During those 47 seconds, when other photographers present shot one photograph at the most, Murray Becker quickly took three slides using his 4x5 Speed Graphic camera. The following day pictures of the event were reproduced in thousands of newspapers around the globe.
The photographs of the Hindenburg exploding affected newspaper readers in a way that words could not. After those photographs were reproduced across the United States and around the world, many newspaper stories were not considered credible unless they had images to support the stories. Becker went on to produce a photograph of Lou Gehrig announcing his retirement in 1939 for which he also received awards. Becker served as Chief Photographer of the Associated Press for a full thirty-two years before he retired.
What kind of relationship can you find between shapes, colors, or lines depicted in these nonrepresentational artworks? How could they symbolize a real-life relationship?
- How does a person's gaze, stance or the way they use their hands communicate a mood or feeling?
- In artworks depicting two or more people, how are they interacting? What does that say about their relationship to each other?
By Paapi Merlin Koonooka (St. Lawrence Island Yupik ), 2009
(This is shortened version of a longer essay from the Smithsonian book Living Our Cultures, Sharing Our Heritage: The First Peoples of Alaska.)
Sea, Land, Rivers
Sivuqaq, the Yupik name for St. Lawrence Island, rises out of the Bering Sea in the heart of a vast and bountiful marine ecosystem. All around us, depending on the time of year, we have walrus, whales and seals. Standing on the point at Gambell, you can watch ducks and seabirds flying by in endless motion over the sea. Our island lies just below the Arctic Circle, so the winters are long and often extreme. The wind gusts at fifty miles per hour, and the wind chill can get to minus fifty degrees Fahrenheit or lower. When spring and summer bring longer daylight and new life, people travel out from the villages of Gambell and Savoonga to their hunting and fishing camps around the island. Many of those places are ancient settlements where our ancestors lived up to two thousand years ago.
I was born and raised in Gambell and have been a subsistence hunter there for my entire life, going back to when we traveled with dog teams instead of on snow machines and all-terrain vehicles. Marine mammals, fish, birds, eggs, reindeer and wild plants are important in the island diet throughout the year, far more so than store-bought foods. On the tundra and mountainsides people gather ququngaq (willow leaf), nunivak (roseroot), angukaq (dwarf fireweed) and various edible roots. In late summer the aqavzik (cloudberry) and pagunghaq (crowberry) ripen.
Walrus have always been essential to our way of life. We hunt them in open water and later on the frozen ocean, making use of nearly everything as either food or material. The meat and fat are bundled into large tuugtuq (meatballs) to store in underground food cellars, and in the past that meat sustained our dog teams as well. Good-quality hides of female walrus are stretched, split, cured and stitched to cover the angyapik (hunting boat). Walrus stomachs become heads for drums, and their intestines, ivory and whiskers are transformed into adornment and art. Our predecessors used the skins to make tough rope and covers for the nenglu (traditional house) and interior aargha (sleeping room). They spun walrus sinew into thread and carved the tusks into tools and sled runners.
I am a whaling captain like my grandfather, granduncles and father before me, and I serve on the Alaska Eskimo Whaling Commission. Traditionally, the captain prepared for whaling in a religious way, using charms, special songs and rituals that showed the great respect we feel for this animal. While these rituals are no longer practiced, strict hunting protocols and the responsibility of the captain remain unchanged. A bowhead whale is so immense and powerful that hunters, even though armed with modern weapons, are really at its mercy. We use skin-covered boats and sails rather than motors during the approach, keeping absolute silence, because whales have a very sharp sense of hearing. But they know we are there even if there is no sound. That is why we say that a whale decides to let itself be taken, not the other way around. One whale provides an abundance of food that is shared with families on the island and across Alaska.
Our hunting lifestyle has never been harmful to the animal species. Nature has her own way of opening up the ice and sea for us or withholding access. During storms we have to stay at home and wait for a change. When the weather is nice, the conditions may still not be right for going out, even if walrus are floating by on top of the ice floes. Sometimes we will be punished this way if we’ve failed in our respect. But as long as the creatures make themselves available to us, we will gather them for food and traditional needs.
Community and Family
The people of the island have close ties to the Yupik communities of Ungaziq and Sireniki on the Siberian coast, and we speak dialects of the same language. Before the cold war began in the late 1940s, our families traveled back and forth to visit, trade and seek marriage partners. The forty-mile trip took a full day in a skin boat using sail and paddles. Visits resumed in the 1980s after glasnost took hold in Russia, and now with a fast powerboat and calm seas, the crossing takes only two or three hours.
Some of my best memories from childhood are of traveling with my dad. He had a wonderful dog team, and in the wintertime we would go on the sled to trap white fox. Even in the summer we’d take it across the gravel and tundra. When I started raising a family I did the same thing. We would hitch up a team of twelve dogs to pull our heavy sled, which was nine feet long with steel runners. As a child you really look forward to going out with your parents and elders for food gathering and hunting, because you want to learn.
I sometimes think of early days when everyone was living in nenglut (traditional houses). They would go seal hunting on the ice, pulling whale baleen toboggans behind them to bring back the meat. You had a backpack and a rifle slung over your shoulders and an ice tester to see where it was safe to walk. You had to observe the ice and the direction it was moving, making sure not to get caught on an outgoing current. Boys were doing all that by the age of ten or twelve, and by fifteen you had to know everything. Your parents and elders made sure you were ready, or you weren’t allowed to go alone.
Our culture is changing rapidly in some ways, more slowly in others. Fluency in the Yupik language is declining in the younger generations, although among the older people our daily conversation continues to be in Yupik. There is less respect among some young people now for their parents and elders, too much television and video gaming, problems with drugs and alcohol. We need to find a balance between traditional and modern ways, and I believe the best way to do that is through education. If you can be successful in your formal education, you will be in a strong position to help preserve your Yupik heritage. I’m glad to see so many young people still going out with their families to the places where we have always hunted and fished, even if now they travel on machines instead of on foot or by dog sled. They are still eating the same foods that we have always gathered and staying connected to our land and way of life.
Ceremony and Celebration
The remoteness of the island has helped to sustain some of the ways of our forebears. The practices of atuq and aghula (Yupik drumming, singing and dancing) were never interrupted, despite the introduction of Christianity, and people continue to compose new songs and motions. Both communities on the island hold dance celebrations where we welcome visitors and performers from mainland Alaska, Russia and beyond. Other ceremonies are more family-oriented, marking life events such as marriage and the birth and naming of a child. When a young person catches his first seal, a special small celebration is held to share the catch with relatives, making sure that everyone gets a taste. The same thing happens with your first bird.
Many of the former ceremonial practices pertained to hunting, especially whaling. To prepare for the season, a captain would use certain songs that were specific to each clan. The purpose was to please the whale spirits. When the hunters captured a whale, the boats would come back in a line with the successful captain and crew in front. Everyone was deeply thankful, and they celebrated by feasting, singing and dancing. That feeling of appreciation and gratitude for the food that has been provided is just as strong today, even though our beliefs and customs have been modified.
The Yupik culture has a very long, rich history, and at the Smithsonian you will see artifacts that our ancestors created hundreds or even thousands of years ago. Today many of the island’s residents are world-renowned Native artists whose work is shown in national and international museums and art galleries. Some of the ivory they use comes from archaeological sites, and this material, crucial to sustaining life generations ago, is equally important today because of the income generated by art sales. But much more than that, their work is a celebration of our culture, heritage and continuing way of life.
Tags: St. Lawrence Island Yupik, Yupik, Alaska Native, Indigenous, Smithsonian Arctic Studies Center in Alaska
The National Museum of African American History and Culture welcomes you to learn about African American STEM contributions at NASA. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) became an official government agency in 1958, born from its predecessor, the National Advisory Council for Aeronautics (NACA).
In 1961, NASA selected its first African American astronaut candidate by the name of Edward Dwight Jr. Although he never flew in space, his selection as an astronaut candidate was a public display to integrate the space agency. Until then, NASA only had white male astronauts flying even though African American scientists, mathematicians, and engineers had been working for the agency for more than a decade.
Finally in 1981, Guion Bluford became the first African American to fly in space. Since then African Americans have continued to fill positions at NASA and make their contributions in space, from behind a desk, and in the laboratory.
This Learning Lab celebrates these individuals, their bravery, their exploratory spirit, and their desires to express themselves fully through their commitment to space exploration.
This is a celebration of them all.
Keywords: NASA, NMAAHC, NASM, Astronaut, African American, Scientist, Engineer, Mathematician, Technology, Space, Space Travel
This is a sampling of photographic self-portraits.
Professional and amateur photographers have been turning the camera on themselves since photography started. There are a number of strategies and tools that professional and amateur photographers have used, including mirrors, cable releases, timing devices, and simply turning the camera around at arm's length. Cell phones now allow almost effortless self-portraits, known as "selfies."
Keywords: self-portrait, self portrait, selfie, bulb release, string release, timed portrait, cable release, reflection in mirror
For additional images, search at collections.si.edu.
Many aspects of American culture, traditions, history, and systems make up the nation's identity. This collection will help us dip our toes into this deep well of information by first looking at geographic representations of the United States.
Going to the American History museum and African American museum with my ENGL101A class
This collection includes artifacts and images that represent the Five Pillars of Islam. Students should complete the chart (included as the final resource) by first explaining what each pillar is by creating an image that represents the pillar. Then, after looking through the collection, they should identify an artifact that represents each one and explain why.
Tags: Islam, Muslim, religion, Muhammad, object analysis, practice, pilgrimage, hajj, fasting, Ramadan, Shahadah, zakat, tithe, salat, prayer