Once lost, now found

National Geographic has long been known for its spectacular photography that captures meaningful, awe-inspiring, and unexpected moments of everyday life. 2013 marks the 125th anniversary of this American institution, and to celebrate, NatGeo has released a brand new Tumblr blog called FOUND. Fair warning: you will lose yourself (and track of time!) in this addictive and beautifully curated collection of images.

What makes FOUND so unique is that it showcases images that have never before been released to the public, offering time-capsule-like glimpses into the cultural, environmental, and historical moments of decades past. Many of the images have been lost – and then found – over time, and the original information about the photograph, such as date or location, has not been recovered. By releasing the found images, National Geographic hopes to “bring new life” to them for people far and wide, as well as provide an opportunity for those who might know about an image’s origin to share the details and help fill in the gaps.

When scrolling through the blog, you’re bound to stumble upon something that will pique your curiosity or, like me, have you wishing you could have experienced a decade before your time. It sort of feels as though any of the images could be a still frame from a feature motion picture and that there is an epic tale behind each one. But that’s part of the beauty of looking at a photo. You can let your imagination run wild thinking of what might have been occurring in the moments before and after the flash went off, or you can delve deeper and research the few clues that are given to find out its real context. 

My favorite of the bunch so far is this nostalgic, fashionable image of people sledding down a snowy hill in Central Park:

Almost everyone in the photograph is wearing some combination of red, black, and beige clothing. They all have the same type of sled. And while there aren’t any discernable faces, it’s likely everyone is having fun in this very carefree and innocent moment. It seems so staged, but in fact, its a picture of reality. After searching around in our online New York Times Archive, I discovered that one of the largest snowstorms in the city’s history took place on December 11 and 12, 1960, with 15.2 inches of white stuff covering the ground. So really, what else is there to do in these circumstances but go sledding? 

Which image on FOUND do you like best?

For more beautiful photography, visit our Magazine collection on the 2nd floor, where you can check out both National Geographic and NatGeo Traveler in print. If you prefer reading the issues on your computer or mobile device, use your PPL library card to sign up for Zinio, our digital magazine database.

(Photo by Bates Littlehales, courtesy of National Geographic)

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