I’ve enjoyed spending a day or so paging through the Secretary of State’s virtual archives, exploring the 502 photographs, documents, and other items collected and archived by our government; and then placed online for our convenience.
It’s really an incredible bit of historical documentation. My personal favorite image is at right; the opening of the then privately operated Mt. Hope bridge in 1929 (there’s actually a series of photographs from the opening). The description doesn’t explain who’s in the photo; why there are Indians there, who the two whites are, are left up to speculation on the part of the viewer; I’m guessing something to do with the fact that Mt. Hope used to be a major Wampanoag center. I’m guessing the white on the left was the governor of Rhode Island at the time, Norman S. Case; but the one on the right remains an enigma.
Part of the charm for me in the archive is that it doesn’t appear to have been organized by date. Images appear in series, the 1960s, the 1970s, then jump back to the 1910s and 1920s, the 1940s float by, then the 1840s; then to the 1930s, 1890s, etc., etc.
Here are a few highlights:
- Laying of the State House cornerstone, 1896 (the State House looks less imposing)
- Petition for equal school rights (a petition for equal access to public schools regardless of race)
- Garrahy with Senator Pell (Wind Power) (funny to think about R.I. taking the lead in alternative energy)
- Veterans Memorial Day, 1937 (Civil War veterans, a mere four years before World War II began)
- President Harry S. Truman addressing crowd at Providence City Hall, 1948 (what a crowd!)
- Hurricane of 1938- Jamestown (I wonder what the politics were behind the relief?)
- Ted Williams at Tuna Derby (557 lb bluefin caught by baseball legend)
- Coal mine in Cranston, R.I. (go figure)
- United Distillers (Two Sevens Blended Whiskey label… hint, hint)
- President John F. Kennedy with Governor Chafee’s children (that tyke up front looks familiar)
- Governor Ronald Reagan (the future President poses with R.I.’s Republican men of the late 1960s)
There are plenty more interesting images, and a few pictures of architecture or events that are dying to be Photoshop-collaged into pictures of the modern day.