Books in Still Life: A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

This is the beginning of a series I call, Books in Still Life, utilizing another medium to examine vintage books and papers.

I chose this first vintage photograph because I was reminded of this haunting image when I recently came across a History Kicks Ass! post with a photo of a similar time in Great Britain’s history. I cannot imagine the thoughts in this boy’s mind.


A boy sits amid the ruins of a London bookshop following an air raid on October 8, 1940, reading a book titled “The History of London.”

Ten-hut!! They called it “Operation Book Move.” 32,000 books moved in one afternoon – all on foot?


The McNeese College ROTC Cadet Corps moved 32,000 books from the old Kaufman Hall Library to the new Frazar Memorial Library back in May 1961. The task was completed in one afternoon. McNeese State University Archives Photo

Colorado State University faced a flood in 1951. The library was not spared. Even the Director rolled up his pant legs with others to wade through the water to grab as many books as they could.


CSU is no stranger to floods. The most recent flood is the one we talk about the most, but in 1951 (as well as earlier years) a flood hit the Oval. The Library, then in the former Music Hall, was also hit. James Hodgson was the Library Director at that time. Above is a photograph of him helping to rescue books. Hopefully, the improvements over the years since the flood of 1997 will prevent such disasters in the future. From:

As recent as 2012, the political turmoil in Egypt erupted in violence and the Institute of Egypt is thought to have been targeted for devastation in what writers at Axis of Logic aptly named “culturecide” — the elimination of a culture’s written history.


Book restorers work at tables. Restorers work long hours to try to save books and documents.

Restorers and citizens pitched in to try to save hundreds of thousands of rare books and manuscripts. It saddens me so.


Restorers laid burnt and damaged books out to dry in the Institute’s garden. From: www.

Have you had any experience in saving books or other tangible pieces of history?

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3 Responses to Books in Still Life: A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

  1. Boomdeeadda says:

    Those are all profound images, especially the ones from Egypt. Sad, very sad. Unthinkable really that they don’t have such documents archived on microfiche and/or scanned online. I do like to rescue books, whether or not I every read them, I love to use them as decor too.

  2. The photo of the boy sitting in ruins reading a book is a great find – amazing how one photo can show the devastation of the blitz so well. You’ve got innocence, destruction, and knowledge all portrayed in one frame!

  3. YunitaGena says:

    i can feel that you really love books. i love book too.

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