Category: Uncategorized

Historic Photo Comparison

In 1908 Winston Churchill campaigned for a seat in Parliament. In Dundee, Scotland, he was pestered by Mary Maloney, who followed him with a large bell, ringing it whenever he spoke, as a protest against his earlier comments against women’s suffrage. I saw a Facebook post about this, and Googled to do some fact-checking (the story is apparently true). However, I noticed that the photo that accompanied the FB post (top photo below, source not given) is not the most common one used to illustrate this piece of history. Instead, the lower photo, from the London Evening News, is far more often seen. 

 

The Evening News image clearly shows Maloney holding a bell – this is not nearly as obvious in the FB image. The difference that immediately caught my eye was the audience – clearly several women listening in the FB image, none visible in the Evening News image. I thought that maybe the Evening News image had been altered to create the FB image, but that is clearly not the case as they are two distinctly different photos. See the comparison photo below.

In the side by side comparison, you can see that in the Evening News image Maloney obscures the second tall window (A) – in the FB image that window (A’) is not blocked by her. Similarly, the two guys hanging from the window (B) in the Evening News image are obscured (B’) by Churchill in the FB image (or possibly any vestiges of them have been edited out).  The small guy (C and C’) in the window behind Churchill in the Evening News image is obscured by Light-Colored-Hat guy (c and c’) in the FB image.  Finally, I believe that the woman in the light-colored hat in the FB image (D’) appears in part in the Evening News image (D).

A bit of elementary geometry and some thinking about perspective will lead to the conclusion that the FB image was taken by a photographer about 8 feet to the right of the camera that took the Evening News image and considerably further away from Churchill.

Cameras were not omnipresent in 1908, so it is likely that the FB image was taken by another press photographer–after all this would have been a newsworthy event. The FB image is used with the caption “WSC addressing suffragists, Dundee 1909” to illustrate an online piece by Richard Langworth, a Senior Fellow of the Hillsdale College Churchill Project. I’ve contacted him to see if he can offer a source for the image. [5/20/19: He cannot.]

I geek out on old photos, and find it especially interesting to see two photos of this age showing essentially the same moment in time. I hope I can find the source of the FB image.


Addendum: For those of you who have difficulty visualizing perspective, here’s a drawing that might clarify my conclusion.

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