The Lively Morgue

Underneath the New York Times building in Times Square lies a large basement known as the morgue. The morgue houses the paper's archives, and editors at the NYT had the brilliant idea to share some of the treasures hidden in there. The Times’s picture library was originally part of the art department, not the news department. Once it was consolidated with the newsroom clipping file, however, it came to be called the morgue.

The Lively Morgue is a brilliant tumblr site that draws upon The Times’s own pictorial archive, numbering in the millions of images and dating back to the early 20th century. The Times, like many other newspapers, refers to its vintage photo and clippings Archives as the Morgue. The editors say "If we posted 10 new archival pictures every weekday on Tumblr, just from our print collection, we wouldn’t have the whole thing online until the year 3935."

Call me a nerd, but one of my favorite things is that they also scan and publish the back of the photographs, which revelas a great deal about the subjects, and the photograph's history as a vesel for content and as an object. I love that here they take the time to break down the symbols, stamps and writings on the back of photographs.

Here as some of my favorite images they've posted so far...

Aug. 2, 1976: Doreen Haviland, in front, rides the flume with Tara Nugent and Officer Dick Porteus in this photo, taken in Coney Island at the 40th annual Police Anchor Club outing for the widows and children of deceased police officers. See related archival photos of children on the Lens blog.
Nov. 6, 1972: President Nixon on television on the eve of the presidential election. Unable to photograph Nixon in person, the enterprising Times photographer shot TV screens instead.
March 1940: Before spring arrived in New York, The Times ran a photo spread of circus performers putting the final polish on their acts in their winter quarters in Sarasota, Fla. Here, the caption said, “an aerial troupe practices in a treetop setting very different from that of Madison Square Garden or the ‘big top.’
Jan. 20, 1994: “Time Out From a Higher Calling,” read a title on this photograph alongside a story about a group of East Harlem nuns originally from France. Sister Marie Chantal, leaping, and Sister Marie Francesca worked out at the Tae Kwon Do Academy at 828 Ninth Avenue. “The fact that we know tae kwon do doesn’t change anything,” Mother Marie Martha, the group’s mother superior told David Gonzalez, the reporter. “It’s just a sport.”
Nov. 16, 1930: From the Mid-Week pictorial, this photo’s caption read: “One of the largest and most complete collections of guns privately owned by an amateur collector is possessed by Louis Epelley of St. Louis, who has been gathering these ancient arms for the past thirty years. His collection, which contains more than 300 guns, occupies the better part of his home and little cigar store. The oldest arm in the collection is a flint-lock Turkish gun with pike butt and stock of brass, inlaid with with silver, and was taken in the Battle of St. Gotthard in 1613, when the Christians won their victory over the Turks.” Here, he held the ancient Turkish gun.
June 9, 1954: Passengers boarding a TWA Constellation, a propeller-driven aircraft, in New York.
Oct. 19, 1987: Terrence J. McManus, a trader with Spear, Leeds & Kellogg, on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange,the day the Dow Jones industrial average lost 22.6 percent of its value. The crash left the nation fearing a recession, but the market rebounded not long after.