Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Lantern Slides of Russian Life, 1917

Street repair.
And you thought road construction took forever now!

For your viewing pleasure I present a small sample of the images we developed from our glass plate negatives and lantern slides collection. I know little to nothing about glass plate negatives so I won't be spouting useless facts and figures like I normally do. How about, for a change, I let the images speak for themselves.

This one is titled poor man's funeral.
I wonder if they meant poor as in economically disadvantaged or poor as in woes me my poor friend Vlad died. It's these sorts of questions that trouble me.

Yeah, that is so not going to happen. Maybe it's the librarian in me or maybe it's the historian or maybe it's my compulsive need to entertain however badly but whatever I can't seem to let an opportunity to instruct pass me by. Tedious, I know. You should try living with me.

Olive Trees in the Crimea.
Looks like peasants picking rocks. Or a scene from Monty Python's Holy Grail. Except I can't tell if the peasants are dirty.

I can be a real dog with a bone when it comes to knowing the whys and wherefores of things. It's a good thing the JR is so easy going. I wouldn't put up with me. I research crap all the time, I paint whenever the mood strikes me, I avoid doing housework until it becomes a health violation and I.don't.cook.meat. Feel very very sorry for JR.

Milking sheep - southern Russia
Now, THAT looks like a good time. Did those women drug all those animals? How did they get them to be so passive. Maybe, the one on the left is a mesmerist? That's a skill that would have come in handy when my kids were younger.

You didn't think you were going to get away without a bit of history did you? You silly person. Though we don't know a lot about these negatives (i.e. who took them and why) I can tell you that the photographers used a silver nitrate process to produce these negatives. What's a silver nitrate process. I haven't got a clue but I'm sure I could look it up if you'd care to know.

Circassians in park at Moscow
Do you think that those guys are wearing those high Cossack boots? I find those oddly sexy.

These negatives would have been hand colored. Someone knew what he was doing. Pretty nice colors for over 90 years old. I doubt if I'll have much color when I'm that age. Unless of course the funeral director paints me up. Then I'll look like a curly haired circus clown with wrinkles. Excuse me while I cry for a moment.

Camera shy peasants
Look at all that heavy clothing. My endocrine moments would never allow me to wear all that. I don't care how cold it is in Russia. One hot flash and all those clothes would be laying in a heap at my feet. Wouldn't that freak out the natives?

I picked some of the nicer, as in pleasanter, scenes from Russian life around 1917. During that time Russia had some rather ruthless people coming into power. Let's just say that the Bolshevik Revolution was a bad bit of business and leave it at that.

A Farmer's Team in Russia
I'd love one of those aprons. I think it would look lovely hanging on my wall. Yes, I do hang goofy things on my walls. What? A ukulele is goofy.

These are our lantern slides. They would have been put into a "magic lantern" or early slide projector and viewed projected on a white wall. Entertaining and educational. Want more info? Check out the Syracuse Archives webpage. They have got a whole write up about glass plate negatives and lantern slides.

Now, that wasn't so bad now was it? A little history and a little snark; all in all a good day.

See you all around,


  1. When I read "so I won't be spouting useless facts and figures like I normally do" my first thought was OMG - is Michele okay? Is she sick? Does she need some help?

    LOL - okay, so maybe that was a bit of an exaggeration, but you didn't let me down. And your facts and figures are NEVER useless or boring. Never.

  2. Hand colored slides; how cool is that?
    Ilove stuff like this. Just saw that Tolstoy movie last night, really good. Hard not to think about what was just around the corner for Russia at that time.

  3. Okay, now i have to know who took those wonderful images and how you guys in TX got them. Did you notice the building signs on the poor man's funeral picture? One has a picture of an old timey phonograph and other thingees that might be sound equipment - an early Russian version of Best Buy?? And there's a sign that says "Coffee" - in cyrillic, of course :-)

  4. A wonderful and delightful post, Michele!

    Thank you very much.


  5. While I would love to lose myself in research and fact checking, I think I would go overboard with it.
    Awesome slides!

  6. Wonderfully done post Michele. Cheers!!