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U.S. History Seen on Internet

By Carl Hartman
Associated Press Writer
Saturday, June 27, 1998; 2:11 a.m. EDT

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The Library of Congress Depression through World War II showcase.
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Thousands of photos showing Americans and the history they made from the Depression through World War II are now available on the Internet.

The Library of Congress began putting 164,000 pictures online Friday. Many had never before printed or displayed and almost all are in black and white, though some 1,600 are in color.

About 92,000 were snapped by two federal agencies of Franklin D. Roosevelt's time: the Farm Security Administration and the Office of War Information.

They ``include some of the most famous documentary photographs ever produced,'' the library's announcement said.

Some were taken by the artist Ben Shahn, others by Gordon Parks, Dorothea Lange and more great names of 20th century photography.

Among those newly available are 191 from Walker Evans, who shot them while taking the 31 that illustrate James Agee's classic book, ``Let us Now Praise Famous Men.'' Their collaboration described the lives of Alabama sharecropper families in the depression. Evans was an employee of the Farm Security Administration.

Early items in the collection detail the effects of the depression on farms. Then the emphasis shifts to the mobilization of effort for World War II.

The five-year, $60 million National Digital Library Program -- $45 million of it from private sources -- is due to be completed in the year 2000. The library already has 500,000 items on line, including maps, plans, drawings and other images as well as photographs.

New software allows a closer scrutiny of the material, said Donna Lacy Collins, a library preservation specialist.

Viewers can browse through each frame and examine sheets of contact prints from related film that may provide additional information. The availability of double exposures and partial images can help reconstruct the techniques and editing of half a century ago.

The images can be seen on the library's ``American Memory'' website at http://www.loc.gov/.

© Copyright 1998 The Associated Press

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