Unlike other mass mediums, stereographs fell out of vogue and have never recovered their former significance. As a record of popular culture at the turn of the century, however, they provide us with insight into how a certain segment of the population dealt with and viewed particular anxieties and conflicts in a society shifting from a primarily agrarian to primarily industrial economy. Through various methods that provided a fairly standardized message about labor and industry at the turn of the twentieth century, stereographs helped to naturalize a middle-class audience's notions of how to understand industrialization in America.
Recently, stereographic collections have become more accessible to the general public, most notably through the digitization of images from the largest stereographic archive in the country, the Keystone-Mast Collection (where many of the images on this cite come from). Since the Keystone View Company bought out many other major stereographic publishers, the images in their collection provide an excellent (and voluminous) cross-section of mass-produced stereographs. The Smithsonian's Archive Center has also digitized a large amount of the Underwood & Underwood Collection (which represents what remained after they sold off most of their glass plates to Keystone). These two collections are by far the largest repositories for stereographic images. A number of other libraries have digitized their smaller collections as well. University of Washington's site was most helpful for this project, since they provided both the images and texts on their stereograph cards. The major obstacle in researching stereographs, which many have cited, is dating the images and/or text. By piecing together dates from the Underwood & Underwood collection and publication information from other locations, such as company catalogs, I have been able to approximate dates of a number of images, but this explains the lack of specificity on many. For pre-1900 stereographs, William Darrah's book , still considered the primary authority on stereographs, outlines more sophisticated dating methods.
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