In honor of the 125th anniversary of the death of P. T. Barnum

Frank Wendt (1858 after-1930), Capt. Geo. Auger, Welsh Giant, 1905 (2011.42.5)

Printed on verso:
Capt. Geo. Auger,
Welsh Giant.
Born in Cardiff, Wales; 22 years of age; weighs 350 lbs.; 7 ft., 8 inches in height. Tallest man on earth.
The ring that fits my first finger, a half dollar will pass through it.
En route with Barnum & Bailey shows, season 1905.

Frank Wendt (1858 after-1930), [Princess Wee Wee], ca. 1913 (2011.42.13)

Written with pen on verso:
Barnum and Bailey Show. Clinton, Mo Sep. 8, 1913. The least woman in the world, 21 years old, weight 9 lbs.

The Barnum Museum

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Richard Tepe: Another Eggcellent Early Look into Nature

Richard Tepe (1873-1952), Two young brown chicks in their nest, ca. 1910-40 (323.2001)

Richard Tepe (1873-1952), [Nest], ca. 1910-40 (320.2001)

Richard Tepe (1873-1952), A bullfinch with its young at the nest in a birch, ca. 1910-40, (319.2001)

Richard Tepe (1873-1952), Seven eggs in nest, ca. 1910-40 (324.2001)

Richard Tepe (1873-1952), Female aquatic warbler in her nest with young, June 25, 1935 (305.2001)

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Weegee Wednesday: Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Weegee (1899-1968), [Sleeping at the movies.], ca. 1943

Weegee (1899-1968), [Sleeping at the movies.], ca. 1943

Weegee (1899-1968), [Sleeping at the movies.], ca. 1943

“Sleep… is where you find it.” Weegee (the unofficial photographer of Sleep Inc.) wrote in the first chapter of his first book, Naked City (1945).

[The author of this blog post has either fallen asleep, is taking a nap, has Spring Fever, is celebrating National Puppy Day, and/or, spoiler alert, working on an exhibition of Weegee photos made on The Bowery.]

Weegee Wednesday is an occasional series exploring, or just enjoying, the life and work of Weegee.

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“The New Generation Offers a Leader”

Yale Joel, [Candidate for Congress, John F. Kennedy, 29, sitting under campaign poster, next to photos of his parents in a room at the Bellevue Hotel during his campaign for MA-Rep for the 11th district], 1946 (1924.2005)


JOHN F. KENNEDY. The 29-year-old son of Joseph P. Kennedy, former U.S. Ambassador to Britain, this month campaigned hotly in Massachusetts’ 11th District, where he is Democratic candidate for Congress and where 50 years ago, his grandfather was a representative. He won nomination last June in a slam-bang fight. A PT-boat skipper during the war, ex-Lieutenant Kennedy was shipwrecked on a Pacific island, won Navy and Marine Corps Medal.
Life, September 30, 1946, p. 40

To celebrate the circus (sometimes scary, sometimes funny) and the gravitas of the current Presidential elections here in America, this is one of a series of blog posts (not in a logical, chronological or alphabetical order) of photographs, made by a variety of photographers – from famous to forgotten, that document the campaigns of politicians and the protests against political leadership around the world. Elections 2016.

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Weegee Wednesday: Weegee and Lee

Lee Sievan (1907-1990), Weegee and Sammy: Book Party – Weegee’s People at Sammy’s on the Bowery, November 11, 1946 (41.1985)

Lee Sievan (1907-1990), Book Party – Weegee’s People at Sammy’s on the Bowery. Men – Editors – Duell Sloan and Pearce, November 11, 1946 (46.1985)

Lee Sievan (1907-1990), Wolf Mercur – Jewish Actor and Girl Friend: Book Party – Weegee’s People at Sammy’s on the Bowery, November 11, 1946 (40.1985)

Lee Sievan (1907-1990), Servicemen with man with the Daily News: Book Party – Weegee’s People at Sammy’s on the Bowery, November 11, 1946 (48.1985)

Lee Sievan (1907-1990), Alexander Hammid and Hans Richter: Book Party – Weegee’s People at Sammy’s on the Bowery, November 11, 1946 (52.1985)

On Monday evening, November 11, 1946, to celebrate the publishing of Weegee’s People, a great and often overlooked book, a party was held at Sammy’s Bowery Follies (267 Bowery).

Fortunately and not surprisingly there were a number of photographers (and artists and filmmakers) present. One photographer, working with a Rolleiflex and handheld flash unit, was the great and often overlooked Lee Sievan. (An artist and archivist without a Wikipedia page.) Women’s History Month is the impetus for this two part series of blog posts that feature photos made by Lee Sievan of Weegee and Weegee’s People.

Lee Sievan; Photographer, 82

Lee Sievan, a photographer, died of a cerebral hemorrhage on Tuesday at Roosevelt Hospital in Manhattan. She was 82 years old and lived in Manhattan.

Fifty years ago, Mrs. Sievan began taking pictures to record the career of her husband, the painter Maurice Sievan. She also photographed performers and other artists, including Paul Robeson, Milton Avery and Mark Rothko.

Some of her photographs of New York City in the 1940’s were recently displayed at the International Center for Photography, on Fifth Avenue at 94th Street, where Mrs. Sievan had worked as a librarian and archivist for 15 years. The photographs are now on view at the Museum of the City of New York. New York Times obituary, published on May 3, 1990.

These important photos document the end of the first few chapters of Weegee’s life and his work as a “freelance” crime, police, and news photographer and photojournalist and mark a transition, (within a year or two he would be married and living in Hollywood) and document a celebration filled with pie-eyed and tickled-pink people and nocturnal and tipsy postwar enthusiasm. And they offer some of the earliest evidence of Weegee using a Bolex motion picture movie camera. Lee and everyone in the naked city were Weegee’s People.

Lee Sievan (1907-1990), Book Party – Weegee’s People at Sammy’s on the Bowery, November 11, 1946 (38.1985)

Weegee Wednesday is an occasional series exploring, or just enjoying, the life and work of Weegee.

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A Strangelove of Pi

Anton Bruehl (1900-1982), [Pie Crust], ca. 1940s (817.2000)

Weegee (1899-1968), [Baker with baked goods in City Services Building restaurant, New York], 1945 (14894.1993)

The Building.
The sun pushes its way through the dark canyons of Wall Street to alight on this magnificent mountain of stone and steel…. This is the Sixty Wall Street Tower, third largest skyscraper in the world… owned by the Cities Service Company….
The building has its own restaurant…”
Weegee, Weegee’s People, New York: Essential Books, 1946, ch. 10

John Pfahl, Moonrise over Pie Pan, Capitol Reef National Park, UT, 1977 (433.1984)

Happy Pi Day!
Today is the 14th of March, alternatively March 14 or even 3/14. Not unnaturally, today is also Pi Day. Celebrated by mathematicians all over the world in honor of the number Pi (or π), the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter, Pi Day was born at the San Francisco Exploratorium in 1988. Just like the number itself, the ways to celebrate Pi are endless… Happy Pi Day! from Fansinaflashbulb

Weegee (1899-1968), [Cream pie fight in the War Room, on the set of the Stanley Kubrick film “Dr. Strangelove, Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb” (1964)], 1963

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Weegee Wednesday: “Weegee Lives For His Work And Thinks Before Shooting”


If You Want to Know How Weegee Gets Pictures Like These, See Ralph Steiner’s Story on Next Page

PM Newspaper 1941

Weegee Lives for His Work and Thinks Before Shooting
By Ralph Steiner

Many people have asked me to write a piece about Weegee, the free-lance crime photographer whose pictures and stories appear so often in PM… I can say something about why he is a great photographer, which he certainly is.
His greatness as a crime photographer grows out of three things: First, his willingness to live entirely for his work. Second, his ingenuity in carrying it out. Third, his very intelligent approach to a kind of material which other photographers treat in a routine manner…

And there is the all-important fact that Weegee, unlike the majority of photographers I have met, is a rich personality. You can’t squeeze blood from a stone; nor can an editor squeeze good pictures out of a stony photographer. Weegee moves in a world of violence, brutality, bloodshed and horror, but the pictures he brings up out of it do not depend entirely on the drama of the event. They are good because Weegee adds a little of himself, and a little of Weegee is really something…


It’s typical of Weegee to be first in catching such a harrowing shot of a smash-up victim. He says that when he’s on the job, “it’s as though I was in a daze, or in a movie. By nature I am modest and unassuming. I don’t like crowds and I don’t like blood. But when I’m working, it’s as though I was in a daze.”

PM Newspaper 1941

A picture with somebody in it sells better than a picture of a lifeless object. So Weegee sometimes puts himself in his pictures – shooting them by “remote control.” Here he is posing as a “curious passerby” looking as the body of a Brooklyn murder victim found in a trunk near the Gowanus Canal.

PM Newspaper 1941

Weegee’s room shows his devotion to his job. On top of his regular radio is a police short-wave radio and a loudspeaker attached to it dangles over his bed. On the floor are his special “murder shoes” – at left – and his “snow shoes.” He keeps his “fire shoes” in his car. The wall decorations are examples of is work and certificates of awards for prize-winning pictures. The cardboard boxes at the extreme right are his disorderly “files.” The typewriter is his latest acquisition. He has recently taken up writing – a field in which he shows rather startling talent. We don’t know what the Flit is for.

PM Newspaper 1941

Weegee makes friends readily. On a Chinatown assignment, he got this New Year’s lucky wish from a Chinese girl. He has a photo of her painting it pinned above his bed (see picture next page). It is characteristic of him to have his picture taken this way. The cigar is standard equipment.

PM, March 9, 1941, Vol. 1, No. 38, pp. 28-51

75 Years ago today PM published one of the greatest and most significant four pages, photos by Weegee and words by Ralph Steiner and Weegee, in the history of the printed word.

Weegee’s Comment on His Craft:

“Most photographers always use the same old methods. We’ll assume that a horse-drawn wagon is going over the Williamsburg Bridge. A car hits it and the driver is tossed into the water and gets killed. The other photographers will take a picture of the bridge and then have an artist draw a diagram showing how the guy fell into the water. What I do is go and see what happened to the poor old horse.
“News photographers should not act like they are in the movies. Everyone will be co-operative if you just show a little consideration.
“When I take a picture of a fire, I forget all about the burning building and I go out to the human element. If I see a woman standing by a fire engine and crying, it’s much better than a picture of the building. The building is just a spectacle.
“When a crowd sees a camera they all turn around and say: ‘Go ahead and take the picture, Mister. What paper will it be in and what page will it be on?’ People always think a photographer knows what page a picture will be on. I say ‘Forget about the camera. Editors don’t like posey pictures.’ And I set my camera down. Pretty soon they get bored waiting for the picture and start watching the action. Then I take my picture.
“One time one of the newspapers assigned me to a three-alarm fire… I came back with a picture of a monster whale that had drifted into Sheepshead Bay. I got the whale picture exclusive.
“A photographer should have confidence in himself and if he gets a good idea he should go take it, even if everybody laughs at him.”

Weegee Wednesday is an occasional series exploring, or just enjoying, the life and work of Weegee.

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