Text and Image Photography

New Images Photography

Looking Back at History the Studs Terkel Way

A sign that reads 1964The depiction of a year in text is a powerful journey into history. The image of 1964 brings to mind the history, culture and events that shaped the year.

Back in the 20th century, Studs Terkel, envisioned that in the future there should be opportunities to look back at the past. He recorded history in real time by interviewing a wide selection of American people of all ages and walks of life. The project, Conversations with America, is still relevant today as a valued history lesson covering American life in the last century.

You would think the Internet would be a perfect place to dive into the real lives of people who tell stories about how life once was, but there is little talk of the memories people have had of places and events, no history narratives that describe life 10, 20, 30 and 40 years ago.

By this, I mean all kinds of stories by regular-everyday people who write personal stories about places they have been, events they have lived through and life as it once had been.

Text and image combined gives people some time to reflect on not only what a place used to look like, but also what life was like in that place in a moment in time.

These types of stories are saved for photographers, storytellers, essayists and screenwriters to share about a few selected places and times in history, only a minute information of what existed in the past.

Take the Woolworth’s lunch counter in 1960 North Carolina. Smithsonian magazine gives us a special look as to what life was like there back then. The story fascinates many people because it was an important moment in history, yet on the Internet it is depicted by one photograph and a small piece of text. I want to know more.

What did black men at the Woolworths lunch counter say? What was the reaction of the waitresses (what they were called back then) and onlookers? How many of them were aligned with what the men were protesting?

Next, I’ll take you to a place and time in 1964 that gives you a clue as to what the time and place were like from the activities that the place hosted to the people who participated in them. All of the narrative comes from the memories of a person (that would be the person writing this blog), random and free, fun and far-flung, a real life look at life was like for a child in 1964.

If you have any humorous or poignant story you want to share, by all means click on the comments link and write away. Today the Internet gives us all  an opportunity to be Studs Terkel.

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