This photograph of the scars boren by a newly released slave is a well known photograph, although I am unable to find any detailed information about it. It is almost certainly a Daugerreotype photograph, given the time period in which the image was made. It is a brutal reminder of the cruelty American slaves suffered at the hands of their masters, and a reminder that we must be vigilant to the politics of our own time.

Karen Switzer – First Woman to Run in the Boston Marathon

For Alison:

This historic photograph, taken at the 1967 Boston Marathon, is of an angry man, Jock Semple, attempting to stop Karen Switzer from participating. When he noticed her participating in the race, Jock Semple shouted at Karen Switzer, “Get the hell out of my race and give me those numbers!”

Karen Switzer was the first woman to compete in the Boston Marathon as a numbered competitor. Jock Semple was shoved to the ground by Karen Switzer’s boyfriend, Thomas Miller. Women were, in fact, not allowed to compete in the Boston Marathon officially until 1972.

Jock Semple’s behavior is bewildering today, but in 1967 – not so long ago, I was myself 5-years old – a “woman’s place” was still something to be determined either by her father, husband, or boss. When asked his opinion of Karen Switzer having competed in the 1967 Boston Marathon, Boston Athletic Association Director Will Cloney reportedly said, “Women can’t run in the Marathon because the rules forbid it. Unless we have rules, society will be in chaos. I don’t make the rules, but I try to carry them out. We have no space in the Marathon for any unauthorized person, even a man. If that girl were my daughter, I would spank her.”

Asked why she had continued in the race after the attack by Jock Semple, Karen Switzer said, “I knew if I quit, nobody would ever believe that women had the capability to run 26-plus miles. If I quit, everybody would say it was a publicity stunt. If I quit, it would set women’s sports back, way back, instead of forward. If I quit, I’d never run Boston. If I quit, Jock Semple and all those like him would win. My fear and humiliation turned to anger.”

Phan Thi Kim Phuc – the Napalm Girl


This photograph, known popularly as Napalm Girl, is of Vietnamese-Canadian Phan Thi Kim Phuc running from her village of Trang Bang after a napalm attack by South Vietnamese aircrews on June 8, 1972. The photograph was taken by Associated Press (AP) photographer Huynh Cong ‘Nick’ Ut. This is the “cropped version” of the historic photograph, with other AP personnel standing to the right of the scene removed. Napalm Girl won the 1973 Pulitzer Prize in Spot News Photography, and was also chosen as World Press Photograph of the Year for 1973. It is, in my opinion, one of the two most powerful photographs taken during the US led assault (11/1955 – 04/1975) on the nation of Viet Nam.

Ansel Adams – The Tetons and the Snake River


This photograph of the Tetons and the Snake River was taken by Ansel Adams in 1942. Why is this particular photograph historic? It isn’t a necessarily historic photograph on its own, but as part of Adams’ corpus, I think it represents his mastery of Black and White photography quite well. As a practicing photographer since 1980, I have seen many, possibly most, of Adams’ published photographs, and this is one of my favorites.

Ansel Adams is famous, at least among photographers, as one of the developers of the Zone System, a method of exposing, developing, and printing photographs in order to control the scene’s dynamic range in the final positive image.