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22, November 2017

When Innovations of the 1930s Came to Town

Who hasn’t thought “there has to be a better way to do this” or “if only such a thing existed”? Well, the exhibitors at the National Inventors’ Congress went beyond these idle musings to turn their daydreams into inventions! Read more »

24, October 2017

Let's Go to the Movies!

Going to the movies during the Great Depression was a very exciting experience—or at least that’s what I had always thought. Granted, that assumption was based largely on the number "Let’s Go to the Movies" from the musical Annie. The historical accuracy of singing and dancing ushers aside, it’s safe to say that seeing a movie today is a very different experience from what it was in the early 1930s. Many Sievers Studio Collection photos related to the St. Louis movie theater industry illustrate this perfectly. Read more »

24, August 2017

Our Burning Love for Nitrate Film

The end of August marks the halfway point for our Picturing 1930s St. Louis project. For almost a full year now we’ve been going through all the remaining negatives created by the Sievers Studio during the 1930s. We’ve found lots of great images, learned some interesting facts about the photographers who created them, and gotten a glimpse of what St. Louis was like during the early part of that decade. We’ve also achieved an important project goal: We’ve identified and cataloged all of the nitrate film. Read more »

26, July 2017

St. Louis in the Great Depression

When the stock market crashed in 1929, St. Louis was among the largest cities in the country. With a population of more than 820,000 people, it ranked seventh overall, right between Cleveland and Baltimore. As a result, the early years of the Great Depression hit St. Louis hard. Read more »

29, June 2017

Meet the Repeat Customers

What have we discovered now that we’re halfway through our Picturing 1930s St. Louis project? That the Sievers Studio sure had a knack for creating repeat customers—with some intriguing outcomes.

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31, May 2017

Now Play Ball . . . On the Radio?

What could have captured the attention of this many St. Louisans in the early years of the Great Depression? Cardinals baseball, of course! In this photo taken for the Sievers Studio by Harold Sneckner, fans gathered outside of the Hunleth Music Company to listen to game 4 of the 1931 World Series between the St. Louis Cardinals and the Philadelphia Athletics. Look closely and you’ll see the radio perched on the fire escape. Something we take for granted now—listening to baseball games on the radio—was considered fairly cutting edge in the early 1930s. It was also somewhat controversial. Read more »

21, April 2017

Isaac Sievers: The Man Who'd Photograph Anything

Isaac Sievers—Sievers Studio founder and the man behind many of the photographs featured in our Picturing 1930s St. Louis project—was the son of a German immigrant and an Arkansas native. The 1910 census, which lists him working as a salesman in the “picture line” industry in his hometown of Greenville, Mississippi, reveals that he’d already been bitten by the photography bug at just 24 years old. Read more »

15, March 2017

Unlocking a Treasure Trove of STL History

Last September, MHM’s Photos and Prints department began processing our Sievers Studio Collection, which contains the original negatives and select prints created by the Sievers Studio between 1918 and 1989. Thanks to funding provided by the NHPRC, we’re creating a detailed index describing each photo shoot and making some item-level records for the 1930s images. We've mainly been tackling the index up to now, and that work has helped us know how many and what kinds of images we have. Now we're starting to review the 3,600+ identified images from the indexed records to select some of the more interesting ones,  Read more »

31, October 2016

Memorial Photography in St. Louis

Today is Halloween, a day when thoughts naturally turn to the occult, the supernatural, and the otherworldly. Photos of the dead fall squarely in this category, right? Not to previous generations of Americans!

 
25, October 2016

Picturing 1930s St. Louis: An Introduction

Last month, the Missouri History Museum’s Photographs and Prints department began work on an exciting project involving the Sievers Studio Collection. The studio was founded in 1917 by professional commercial photographer Isaac Sievers. Over time, its staff expanded to include several photographers. Isaac’s son, Alvin, joined the business after World War II and kept it going until 1989. Throughout its 72 years of operation, the Sievers Studio captured 264 linear feet of negatives and prints—that’s the length of an entire city block! The Picturing 1930s St. Read more »