Arnold Genthe was born in Berlin in 1869. After earning a Ph.D. in classical philology, he moved to the United States in 1895. He worked as a tutor, but he really loved photography. On his days off, he spent his time taking photographs in San Francisco’s Chinatown. Over time, his work became recognized and he opened his own studio. It was subsequently destroyed in the earthquake and fire of 1906. Some of the Genthe’s most beautiful work was taken in the aftermath of the disaster. Other notable works include his photographs of the Chinatown opium dens of San Francisco, Isadora Duncan’s dance troupe, and photographs of the Japanese from a trip abroad.

Today, however, I want to profile the work Genthe did using autochrome between 1906 – 1912. Color photography, as we know it today, became available on a wide scale in the 1960s. It was not affordable until the 1970s. Professional photographers had access to color photography much earlier. The famous Lumière brothers invented a process to take color photographs which they patented in 1903. This process was called autochrome. These photographs are fascinating, and bring the past to life more vividly than most photographs are able to do.

The following photographs are from the Library of Congress:

Boy in the gardens of the National Cash Register Company, Dayton, Ohio – 1912
Interior of J.P. Morgan’s library – 1912
Boy blowing bubbles outdoors – 1906
Sunday at Rye Beach, New York – 1911
California golden poppies – 1906
The poet Edna St. Vincent Millay in Mamaroneck, New York – 1912
Couple seated in a car parked under large pine trees – 1906

Ever heard of the Anti-Saloon League?

I passed this sign on Jones Street in San Francisco one day and took a photo of it.

A major force in American politics until Prohibition was repealed back in the 1930s, the Anti-Saloon League was instrumental in building support for temperance.

The organization started in 1893 in Ohio, and soon fanned out across the U.S. Initial efforts were focused on shutting down saloons. The leaders of the movement reasoned that if alcohol was not readily available, Americans would find a more wholesome way to entertain themselves. Over time, this idea gave way to a new conclusion that people were unaware of the evils of alcohol and the real need was educational.

The Anti-Saloon League led a major effort that included persuasion, propaganda, lobbying, and social pressure, all designed to discourage drinking alcohol. There were years of public campaigns to tie consumption of alcohol to insanity, unemployment, crime, and mortality.

These moral crusaders were prolific! In addition to speeches and parades, the League published songs, dramas, magazines, and more. The following images are from the Anti-Saloon Museum, which is housed in Westerville Library in Westerville, Ohio.

The first two images have very noticeable marital discord themes:

image from Anti-Saloon League
image from Anti-Saloon League
image from Anti-Saloon League

Eventually, the Anti-Saloon League determined that their success would always be limited, as long as alcohol was legal. They became focused on putting temperance-minded politicians in office.

In 1919, the long-term efforts of the League finally paid off: the 18th Amendment – Prohibition – was ratified. The manufacture, sale, and consumption of alcohol was banned in the United States.

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