Photoshopping History: Lane Technical High School

Since our project group has decided on a topic for our exhibit, this post will discuss images that we might use for that project, rather than those I took on my initial archive visit. Our exhibit will compare the histories of Lane Tech (a technical school for boys) and Flower Tech (for girls), their gendered approaches to technical education, and the ideas about men’s and women’s roles that these approaches reveal. The images below are from the Chicago History Museum’s collection of photos from Lane Tech, taken in the early 1900s for the Chicago Daily News. I am a Photoshop novice and can’t claim any expertise about how the tool is used, or even about what it might be capable of, but this post will discuss a few ideas about how these photos could be edited in Photoshop in preparation for display in our online exhibit.


Baseball player Jake Sommerfield of Lane Tech High School (1928). Image from the collection of the Chicago History Museum.

As you can see below, the collection contains several images of sports teams, an integral part of education at technical schools like Lane. For this image, I would most likely crop the edges where writing and holes in the photo are visible, to keep from distracting from the dynamic main subject.


Lane Tech football players standing on an athletic field (1913). Image from the collection of the Chicago History Museum.

This image of football players is a nice group shot, while still having few enough subjects that it retains a portrait-like quality. I might increase the contrast between the sky in the background and the players’ faces so that their expressions are clearer.


Lane Tech football players standing on an athletic field (1913). Image from the collection of the Chicago History Museum.

Here’s another shot of the football team from the same day. In Photoshop, I might crop the edges where white strips cover the images, and/or I might try to zoom in a little on the shot so the viewer could see the subjects’ faces more clearly.


Lane Tech basketball players posing in a gymnasium (1929). Image from the collection of the Chicago History Museum.

Finally, here’s another group shot, this time of the basketball team standing single file in height order. Again, I would crop the edges so that the writing is not visible. Perhaps there would be some way to draw attention to the “Tech” sign in the upper left corner, a good visual indicator for the photo.

I’m excited to see what’s actually possible for these images in Photoshop–though I’m still wondering about copyright and permissions. Even if these images are used with permission, is editing of this kind allowed? How do digital historians work within the limits of “fair use” when editing photos for this kind of project? Those issues will have to be explored as we continue in the process.


One thought on “Photoshopping History: Lane Technical High School

  1. This issue of copyright/fair use is an important one that we will definitely need to confront through this project. I know for a fact that the Chicago History Museum (which houses photographs of both Lane Tech and Flower Tech) strictly forbids the reproduction of material. The Chicago Defender images that I discuss in my blog post this week are owned by the Chicago Tribune, which also prohibits the reproduction and manipulation of archival material. Oh well?

    Liked by 1 person

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