History with its flickering lamp stumbles along the trail of the past, trying to reconstruct its scenes, to revive its echoes, and kindle with pale gleams the passion of former days. ~Winston Churchill

16 March, 2015


Today marks the fourth anniversary of The Passion of Former Days!

As usual, the occasion makes me go "wow." To be honest, I thought it would be something I dabbled with for a month or maybe two. The first time a post hit 100 views my jaw hit the floor. Now... four years, 462 posts, and 940,000 page views. The pace has slowed a bit from earlier days, but really that's been because of the blog's influence, too. Through this little endeavour I realized how much I love historical photographs, which led me to the decision to switch fields (from medieval history, of all places), which led me to a master's in Photographic Preservation at Collections Management, which itself exposed me to more amazing photographs that I ever could have believed I'd see (I've been inches away from the first daguerreotype!). I just accepted my offer of admission to do a PhD at Canada's top university, on snapshots. At the moment I'm working doing research with WWI images, which is very fitting, considering two of my first three blog posts were of WWI photographs. 

The moral is: you sure never know what decisions are going to be life-changing!

It's been absolutely wonderful to see this blog--and, of course, these pictures--get the feedback it has. There are so many great pictures out there, and after all these years and all this learning and all this experience I only feel that more. I love that there's people out there who love this too. Thank you for all the follows, and all the shares, and, most importantly, all the enjoyment!


© Crown copyright. IWM (RAF-T 6311)

Four planes of the RAF aerial display team the Red Pelicans, 1963-64.  Source

University of Washington Libraries

Four women in wood veneer bathing suits for a lumber promotion, ca. 1929, Washington (State). Source

© IWM (D 944)

Four Belgian children with jammy faces, London, 1940. Source

24 February, 2015

Road Tripping 1960s Norway

A delightful set of photo postcards made in Norway in the 1960s. Wonderfully, nearly all the cards in the set include a cheerful red car (of various makes), merrily making its way through the Norwegian countryside. The postcards thus evoke a series of personal snapshots of one person's road-trip (better snapshots than anyone could actually take!). Of course, in a sense, they are: the car(s) belonged to the photographer. 

Since the photos' captions are only in Norwegian, which I don't speak, I've pasted them in full, so as not to mix up place names and descriptions. 

Nasjonalbiblioteket / National Library of Norway

Lillehammer. Source

Nasjonalbiblioteket / National Library of Norway

Tvindefoss. Ruten Voss - Stalheim - Gudvangen. Source

Nasjonalbiblioteket / National Library of Norway

Vik i Sogn. I bakgrunnen Hella og Fjærlandsfjord. Source

14 February, 2015

Un Baiser

What better day to have a dip into my dear collection of 1920s/30s French romance postcards? For the uninitiated, the genre is characterized by its embellished scenes of idealized romance--perfect for Valentine's Day! So, here is a selection of passionate (or at least passionately posed) kisses. Cynics can come back later. 

I've included the backs, because most of these postcards, especially the more romantic ones, were in fact sent between couples. So there's the real romance in addition to the staged, a meltingly lovely combination. 

personal collection

Written November 15, 1930, in Bourges, to a woman named Germaine. 

personal collection

personal collection
Written on September 20, 1923, in Berchon, from a man to a woman. 

personal collection

Written August 21, 1928, in Marennes, from Raoul to Eugenie. 
personal collection

personal collection

10 February, 2015

The Joy of Snow Shovelling

It might not be fun, but at least the misery has been shared over the centuries....

Boston Public Library

Shovelling snow, Boston, 1917-1934. Source

Boston Public Library

More snow shovelling in Boston, 1936. Source

National Library of Ireland

Shovelling snow into the Liffey, Dublin, 1936. Source

28 January, 2015

New Zealand in Autochrome

Beautiful colour photographs from New Zealand, 1913-1915. These autochromes, taken by avid amateur photogrpaher Robert Walrond, mostly depict Auckland and area. The Public Domain Review has an excellent, detailed article discussing autochromes in New Zealand from the same collection, with a particular focus on those by Walrond. The article includes more still lives and portraits; I've chosen outdoor views. 

The autochromes come from the collections of Te Papa, the national museum of New Zealand, in Wellington, which is terrific museum all round. 

Te Papa (A.018181) Purchased 1999 with New Zealand Lottery Grants Board funds.

Albert Park, 1915, Auckland, by Robert Walrond. Source

Te Papa (A.018203) Purchased 1999 with New Zealand Lottery Grants Board funds.

Mount Hobson from Mount Eden, 1913, Auckland, by Robert Walrond. Source

Te Papa (A.018191) Purchased 1999 with New Zealand Lottery Grants Board funds.

Tree fern, 1915, Auckland, by Robert Walrond. Source

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