For the past four years a blogger known as “The Gentle Author” has been writing about the social history of East London. For those of you who follow “Call the Midwife,” it is that East London. In the process The Gentle Author has amassed a hundred years of London photographs with this easterly viewpoint and he has now published them. Here is a wonderful video with some of these images.
Often, a drawer or box full of old photographs becomes a treasure trove and derives new meaning simply by sorting and cataloging. It becomes a thematic collection, and history has a way of making the mundane and everyday now prized for the nostalgia it evokes. People who collect historical photographs, antiques, or antiquarian books are always told to choose a topic and take it on with undaunted focus. We have time and again seen collections of old pictures evolve into wonderful collections. When I was growing up my father had a friend who went around NYC photographing things that were typical but on the way out – making that wonderful transition from commonplace to quaint. Such collections they teach us where we have been, and by learning that we get a glimmer both of essential humanity and where we are going.