The ICP Library is in the process of digitizing its slide collection which is a long and arduous process but, also one with the potential for exciting discovery. Today I came across this set of slides documenting W. Eugene Smith’s charged photographs of a Ku Klux Klan (KKK) meeting in South Carolina in 1951.
Smith was fortunate just being able to witness one of the Klu Klux Klan’s clandestine ritual gatherings. And taking out his camera and shooting with flash must have required great courage: In these images clan members appear a mixture of confused and displeased by a photographers presence.
Smith obviously has to hide his own political beliefs in order to cultivate contacts within the KKK and gain access to this gathering. But, after these images were published, in a letter to one of his internal contacts, he states that “it was impossible to keep the clan members from appearing black”.
As our digitization project progresses, the ICP Library’s holding include more and more digital images of rare books and slides, which we make available locally. So, feel free to ask a staff member for access to visual resources.