CLOSE
Original image

Talking Pictures: Haunting Photos of the Dead

Original image

Growing up, I collected pictures of people I didn't know. I lived in South Florida, the land of junk stores, garage sales and big-tent flea markets, and if I didn’t try hard to avoid these places I would invariably be dragged to at least one a month, where amidst endless dusty aisles of sock monkeys and needlepoint portraits I found boxes of yellowing snapshots, discarded by old folks who had died or children who hadn’t seen fit to save them. It was in one such box that I found a photo of a teenage girl who I thought looked a bit like a friend of mine. It came sealed in a little cardboard frame. There was something about it that I really liked, so I bought it and stood it on a bookshelf in my room. This is it:

Eventually I needed the shelf space for books, so I decided to put the girl's picture, along with a few other old snapshots I'd collected, into an album. To fit the girl's picture in the album, I had to take it out of its frame. When I did, I found this written on the back:

That's when I realized that for the better part of a year, a dead person had been staring down at me from a shelf above my bed. In the back of my mind, I suppose I'd known she was dead all along -- it was an old picture, after all -- but the fact that she had probably died soon after the photo was taken disturbed me profoundly. She was no longer anonymous. Now she had a name: Dorothy. And suddenly I found myself grieving, in a small, quiet way, for a forgotten person, my own age, whose own family had probably not thought of her in decades. Smiling and doomed, Dorothy haunted me for some time.

Like Dorothy, all the photos in this week's column are of, or about, the dead. While most aren't terribly graphic, I'd advise sensitive readers to move on -- or check out last week's column, Love and Marriage, instead. I'm posting these with minimal commentary; they're powerful enough on their own.

Roy + Polly Adams
Butcher at local market

They were traveling by auto up the east coast of Florida at night. Had a flat tire and pulled onto the shoulder to change it. They were hit by another auto from behind and Polly’s leg was crushed. Later amputated but gangrene had set in and she could not be saved.

Mama + Grace -- 1953
Where Daddy was killed

Honey this is my mother's grave and I just wanted you to see it ok
love Ruth


darling little nephew
wish he was ours
Died July 1934

Boy pushed off the bridge over Schuylkill + drowned. I buried him. His mother is nearly distracted. She lives at 1306 Ellsworth Street. Her name is Mrs. Mowatt.

Jack Mord from the Thanatos Archive found the photo above, and also dug up an excerpt about it from the book Violent Death in the City:

The same jury finally managed to ignore a bill for murder brought against ten year old Frank Dougherty, perhaps because he was rushed before them in convulsions, a reaction to confinement without bail in Moyamensing Prison. He was accused of having pushed another ten year old, Nelson Mowatt, off the banks of the Schuylkill nearly a year earlier, on August 23, 1899. At that time an inquest had cleared him, partly because Mowatt's mother testified that the incident was accidental. The woman had since changed her mind and come to believe that Frank had killed her son out of rivalry for the affections of her employer, Henry Magilton, a kindly old gentleman who was wont to shower the boys with mandolins and bicycles.

This is not exactly a picture you would want to show to everyone but had one made for each of you, as I thought you’d like to have it as it is the last one we ever had made together. I’ll always be grateful for that 2 weeks alone at Desert Hot Springs as it seemed to mean so much to him. He seemed perfectly content and happy.

Around our anniversary (awful) 1951

Follow me on Twitter

Original image
iStock
arrow
literature
10 Classic Books That Have Been Banned
Original image
iStock

From The Bible to Harry Potter, some of the world's most popular books have been challenged for reasons ranging from violence to occult overtones. In honor of Banned Books Week, which runs from September 24 through September 30, 2017, here's a look at 10 classic book that have stirred up controversy.

1. THE CALL OF THE WILD

Jack London's 1903 Klondike Gold Rush-set adventure was banned in Yugoslavia and Italy for being "too radical" and was burned by the Nazis because of the author's well-known socialist leanings.

2. THE GRAPES OF WRATH

Though John Steinbeck's 1939 novel, about a family of tenant farmers who are forced to leave their Oklahoma for California home because of economic hardships, earned the author both the National Book Award and a Pulitzer Prize, it also drew ire across America become some believed it promoted Communist values. Kern County, California—where much of the book took place—was particular incensed by Steinbeck's portrayal of the area and its working conditions, which they considered slanderous.

3. THE LORAX

The cover of Dr. Seuss' The Lorax
Google Play

Whereas some readers look at Dr. Seuss's Lorax and see a fuzzy little character who "speaks for the trees," others saw the 1971 children's book as a danger piece of political commentary, with even the author reportedly referring to it as "propaganda."

4. ULYSSES

James Joyce's 1922 novel Ulysses may be one of the most important and influential works of the early 20th century, but it was also deemed obscene for both its language and sexual content—and not just in a few provincial places. In 1921, a group known as The New York Society for the Suppression of Vice successfully managed to keep the book out of the United States, and United States Post Office regularly burned copies of it. But in 1933, the book's publisher, Random House, took the case—United States v. One Book Called Ulysses—to court and ended up getting the ban overturned.

5. ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT

In 1929, Erich Maria Remarque—a German World War I veteran—wrote the novel All Quiet on the Western Front, which gives an accounting of the extreme mental and physical stress the German soldiers faced during their time in the war. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the book's realism didn't sit well with Nazi leaders, who feared the book would deter their propaganda efforts.

6. ANIMAL FARM

The cover of George Orwell's Animal Farm
Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

The original publication of George Orwell's 1945 allegorical novella was delayed in the U.K. because of its anti-Stalin themes. It was confiscated in Germany by Allied troops, banned in Yugoslavia in 1946, banned in Kenya in 1991, and banned in the United Arab Emirates in 2002.

7. AS I LAY DYING

Though many people consider William Faulkner's 1930 novel As I Lay Dying a classic piece of American literature, the Graves County School District in Mayfield, Kentucky disagreed. In 1986, the school district banned the book because it questioned the existence of God.

8. LOLITA

Sure, it's well known that Vladimir Nabokov's Lolita is about a middle-aged literature professor who is obsessed with a 12-year-old girl who eventually becomes her stepdaughter. It's the kind of storyline that would raise eyebrows today, so imagine what the response was when the book was released in 1955. A number of countries—including France, England, Argentina, New Zealand, and South Africa—banned the book for being obscene. Canada did the same in 1958, though it later lifted the ban on what is now considered a classic piece of literature—unreliable narrator and all.

9. THE CATCHER IN THE RYE

Cover of The Catcher in the Rye

Reading J.D. Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye is practically a rite of passage for teenagers in recent years, but back when it was published in 1951, it wasn't always easy for a kid to get his or her hands on it. According to TIME, "Within two weeks of its 1951 release, J.D. Salinger’s novel rocketed to No. 1 on the New York Times best-seller list. Ever since, the book—which explores three days in the life of a troubled 16-year-old boy—has been a 'favorite of censors since its publication,' according to the American Library Association."

10. THE GIVER

The newest book on this list, Lois Lowry's 1993 novel The Giverabout a dystopia masquerading as a utopiawas banned in several U.S. states, including California and Kentucky, for addressing issues such as euthanasia.

Original image
Data Viz Project, Ferdio // CC BY-NC-ND 4.0
arrow
Design
From Donut Charts to Bubble Maps, This Site Will Help You Choose the Best Way to Visualize Your Data
Original image
Data Viz Project, Ferdio // CC BY-NC-ND 4.0

For many researchers, gathering data is the fun part of their job. But figuring out how to convey those numbers in a clear and visually appealing way is where they lose confidence. The Data Viz Project streamlines this step: With more than 150 types of data visualizations organized by different categories, finding the perfect format for your information is quick and painless.

According to Co.Design, the compendium comes from the Copenhagen-based infographics agency Ferdio and it took four years to develop. It started as a collection of physical graphs and charts posted on the walls of their office before moving online for all employees to use. Now, they’re making the project accessible to the public.

The website includes all the basic visualizations, like the line graph, the pie chart, and the Venn diagram. But it also makes room for the obscure: The chord diagram, the violin plot, and the convex treemap are a few of the more distinctive entries.

At first, the number of options can seem overwhelming, but narrowing them down is simple. If you’re looking for a specific type of visualization, like a chart, diagram, or table, you can select your category from the list labeled "family." From there you can limit your results even further by selecting the type of data you're inputting, the intended function (geographical data, trend over time), and the way you want it to look (bars, pyramids, pictographs).

Each image comes with its own description and examples of how it can be used in the real world. Check out some examples below to expand your own data visualization knowledge.

Alluvial Diagram
Alluvial Diagram

Arc Diagram
Arc Diagram

Hive Plot
Hive Plot

Hexagonal Binning
Hexagonal Binning

Violin Plot
Violin Plot

Packed Circle Chart
Packed Circle Chart

Kagi Chart
Kagi Chart

Sorted Stream Graph
Sorted Stream Graph

[h/t Co.Design]

All images courtesy of Ferdio // CC BY-NC-ND 4.0

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER
More from mental floss studios