Summer Road Trip 2019: Texas

After leaving New Orleans, the Special Media Division headed west towards Texas. Photographs of the Lone Star State can be found in records related to the Air Force, Army, Navy, Coast Guard and Marines, as well as the Bureau of Public Roads, NASA, and many others.  On this road trip, however, we decided to take the archival road less traveled and look in the Records of the Bureau of Entomology and Plant Quarantine. 

Ft. Davis, Texas. October 28, 1930. View of road station just to the south of Ft. Davis. This is a typical Plant Quarantine road station in pink bollworm project. Local Identifier: 7-CI-12568

As is often the case, the road less traveled was full of unexpected finds. In this case those discoveries came in a small series titled, Photographs of Cotton Insects. The majority of images in this series appear to be gelatin dry plate negatives taken in the early decades of the 20th century.

While the Bureau of Entomology and Plant Quarantine was primarily interested in the boll weevil, an invasive insect that feeds on cotton, the photographs also provide a human perspective to the rural farmlands.   There are a number of striking images in this small series, many of which highlight the difficult and unsafe conditions affecting individuals working the land. A sample of images from this series can be viewed below:

W. D. Hunter at lab. Victoria, Texas. September 14, 1903. Local Identifier: 7-CI-45
Presidio, Texas. Men of the burning crew leaning up the Gray Farm. Bureau of Plant Quarantine and Control clean up. December 1, 1932. Local Identifier: 7-CI-13604
Hand guns in operation dusting cotton with calcium arsenate. July 24, 1935. Local Identifier: 7-CI-14307
Airplane with dusting equipment, April 1, 1924. Local Identifier: 7-CI-6485
Test operation of Huff Deland Duster #1. Photo by B. R. Coad. August 23, 1924. Local Identifier: 7-CI-6959.
Economy duster, man holding device. Photo by Kirkpatrick. February 7, 1925. Local Identifier: 7-CI-9130
Showing position of cotton plows and machine when ready for operation. August 11, 1926. Local Identifier: 7-CI-9646
Mopping growing cotton. May 10, 1935. Local Identifier: 7-CI-14216
Typical cotton dusting scene showing cart type duster applying calcium arsenate for control of the boll weevil. Local Identifier: 7-CI-2238

Note: In addition to photographs from Texas, this series also contained images from Louisiana and Arizona. In some instances the location was not indicated in the original caption. This series has been digitized in full and will be available on the National Archives Catalog in the coming weeks.

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