I love collections of old photographs. The more dog-eared and yellowed the better. Snapshots in time, depicting long gone lives in an era we know only from history books, TV and Hollywood. Yet the real thing always surprises me with its freshness and originality.
The US Library of Congress has just released a fabulous collection of the work of photographer John C.H. Grabill. He recorded the daily lives of the folk of the Wild West town of Deadwood in the 1880’s. Not the Deadwood of Doris Day and Ian McShane movies but the real frontier town, capturing the life of these intrepid pioneers who fought and tamed the Sioux Indians whilst panning for gold in the Black Hills. Colonel George Armstrong Custer led his troops into the hills to discover the precious metal and start the gold rush of 1874.
The same Col. Custer who lost his entire command of 300 men soon after at the battle of Little Bighorn. Only one horse survived.
Wild Bill Hickok, Calamity Jane, the Sundance Kid and Colonel Custer walked these streets. In the UK the Daily Mail Online carries a collection of the best.
The photographer, John C.H. Grabill, has disappeared in time, like the grainy, black & white people in the photographs.