Samuel Herman Gottscho and William Schleisner

On June 21, 1934, Samuel Herman Gottscho snapped this photograph of the north facade of the Nebraska state capitol in Lincoln, Nebraska. Born in 1875, Gottscho acquired his first camera in 1896. For many years he focused his camera on nature, but eventually he concentrated on formal architectural photography. Gottscho took pictures part-time until, after twenty-three years as a traveling salesman, he became a professional photographer at the age of fifty. Gottscho believed that he created some of his best work when he was seventy years old.
Nebraska State Capitol, Lincoln, Nebraska, Samuel H. Gottscho, photographer, June 21, 1934, 5:30 p.m. Architecture and Interior Design for 20th Century America, 1935-1953
New York city views. View through loggia of Barbizon Hotel, Samuel H. Gottscho, photographer, June 11, 1932. Architecture and Interior Design for 20th Century America: Photographs by Samuel Gottscho and William Schleisner, 1935-1955
William Schleisner (1912-62) joined Gottscho—his father-in-law, in his photography business in 1935; they worked together for many years. The American Memory collection, Architecture and Interior Design for 20th Century America: Photographs by Samuel Gottscho and William Schleisner, 1935-1955, consists of more than 29,000 online negatives and photo transparencies (out of 45,000 items) taken by Gottscho and Schleisner and housed in the Prints and Photographs Division of the Library of Congress. The images, primarily of architectural subjects, include interiors and exteriors of homes, stores, offices, factories, and historic buildings, located chiefly in the northeastern United States.

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June 21 marks the beginning of summer in the Northern Hemisphere. Children and adults look forward to the beginning of the season and to beating its heat with rites of summer such as swimming and eating ice cream. The date on which the season commences, the summer solstice, is the longest day of the year and the moment when the perceived pattern of the sun is farthest from the equator.

Man and Woman Floating on Their Backs in Water, between 1900 and 1915. Touring Turn-of-the-Century America: Photographs from the Detroit Publishing Company, 1880-1920

There’s a time in each year that we always hold dear,
Good old summertime;
With the birds and the trees-es, and the sweet scented breezes,
Good old summertime…

In the Good Old Summertime External,” Ren Shields, words, George Evans, music, 1902. Historic American Sheet MusicExternal

Swimming Pool Created by CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps) Dam, Huntingdon, Pennsylvania, Edwin Rosskam, photographer, July 1941. America from the Great Depression to World War II: Photographs from the FSA and OWI, ca. 1935-1945
Children Playing in Swimming Pool, Chicago, Illinois. American Landscape and Architectural Design, 1850-1920: a Study Collection from the Harvard Graduate School of Design External
Homemade Swimming Pool for Steelworkers’ Children, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Arthur Rothstein, photographer, July 1938. America from the Great Depression to World War II: Photographs from the FSA and OWI, ca. 1935-1945
Calhoun Beach, Minneapolis, Minnesota, copyright 1915. Taking the Long View: Panoramic Photographs, 1851-1991

American Life Histories, Manuscripts from the Federal Writers’ Project, 1936-1940 abound with summer recollections:

On hot summer days we’d have fights, arguing over who’d claim the pool for the day, the boys or the girls. The boys used to go without their suits…

Living on the Hill,” Mari Tomasi, interviewer, 1940. American Life Histories, Manuscripts from the Federal Writers’ Project, 1936-1940

No, I does not swim. I goes to beach to maka meditations. How you thinka I look in swim suit? Hah! I am no longer so young and handsome. De childrens woulda think I was de little whale.

Interview with Vito Cacciola,” Merton R. Lovett, interviewer, 1939. American Life Histories, Manuscripts from the Federal Writers’ Project, 1936-1940

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Japanese Troops Defeated on Okinawa

On June 21, 1945, Japanese troops were defeated on the Pacific island of Okinawa after one of the longest and bloodiest battles of World War II. Having seized the Ryukyu Islands from Japanese control, the United States next prepared to launch an onslaught against the Japanese mainland.

Japanese Soldier, Photograph by U. S. Signal Corps, 1942. Prints & Photographs Division

In September 1940, Japan allied itself with Germany and Italy to form the Axis powers and established a base in French Indochina. One year later, Japan moved troops to southern French Indochina and was poised to move against the Netherlands Indies, seeking to acquire an oil source.

When the United States, Britain, and the Netherlands placed an embargo on oil exports to Japan, that country responded quickly with an attack against the U.S. fleet at Pearl Harbor. Japanese military forces occupied the Philippines, the Netherlands Indies, Malaya, and Singapore in rapid succession, and invaded Burma and Thailand, achieving its goal of complete control of the South Pacific.

We’ll Lick ‘Em—Just Give Us the Stuff!” U.S. Government Printing Office, 1943. Prints & Photographs Division

In the meantime, however, the United States had mobilized its industrial and economic resources. The Office of War Information, created in June 1942, generated a propaganda campaign to mobilize the manpower and the womanpower of the United States in support of the war effort.

During its offensive in the Pacific, Japan had captured many American and Filipino prisoners, who were enduring forced marches and cruelty in prisoner of war camps. Reports of these atrocities fueled American resolve to defeat Japan. The tide turned with the Battle of Midway in June 1942, at the northern tip of the Hawaiian islands, where the United States began its counteroffensive by air and sea, successfully crippling the Japanese fleet.

The U.S. strategy for conquering Japan was to capture a succession of weaker Japanese outposts, “island-hopping” toward the Japanese mainland. Slowly, in many bloody battles in the Pacific jungle, at Guadalcanal, the Solomon Islands, the Philippines, and Iwo Jima, the U.S. forces wrested Pacific territory from the Japanese, island by island.

LSM’s Sending Rockets at Shores of Pokishi Shima, near Okinawa, Five Days Before Invasion, U. S. Navy photograph, May 21, 1945. Prints & Photographs Division

Okinawa was the last critical outpost the United States needed to reclaim before launching an attack on the Japanese home islands. As in the progressive invasion of the other Pacific Islands, the U.S. began the onslaught with a series of air attacks on Okinawa and islands nearby, from October 1944 to March 1945.

From this time until the end of the war, the Japanese responded with an intense and desperate effort, increasing the kamikaze attacks on American ships and other targets and introducing to these suicide missions a new weapon, the baka, a piloted missile. In these guided missiles, the pilot reached more than 600 miles per hour in his final dive, and crashed into his target with more than a ton of explosives built into the nose of the aircraft.

On April 1, 1945, some 60,000 U.S. troops landed on the beaches, where they met with little resistance. However, more than 77,000 Japanese troops of the 32d Army were on the island under the command of Lieutenant General Mitsuru Ushijima, who withdrew his soldiers to the southern section of the island where the Japanese held out for nearly three months—hiding in the jungle and in caves, and engaging the Americans in intense guerilla warfare. Some 12,000 American lives and 110,000 Japanese lives were lost in the campaign. To avoid the dishonor of enemy capture, General Ushijima committed ritual suicide on June 23 as approaching U.S. forces were mopping up pockets of Japanese resistance.

Crew Members of a Marine Torpedo Squadron Lugging Their Own Bags Across the Okinawa Airstrip as They Arrive to Start Operations Against the Enemy, Official U.S. Marine Corps photograph by Corporal William Beall, 1945. Prints & Photographs Division
Marines Wait at Entrance to Cave in Which Japanese Soldiers Are Hiding. U.S. Marine Corps photograph, 1945. Prints & Photographs Division
Major General Lemuel C. Shepherd, Seated on Shore, Studying Map of Okinawa, June 28, 1945. Prints & Photographs Division

Japan still refused to concede that World War II was over even after their defeat on Okinawa. The ultimate surrender of Japan to the Allies would be, according to Japanese cultural norms, an unthinkable dishonor. However, Japan was able to hold out less than two more months. Emperor Hirohito was forced into an unconditional surrender in August 1945 after the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were decimated by the United States’ new weapon of mass destruction, the atomic bomb.

Hirohito, Emperor of Japan Wearing Imperial Regalia and Shinto Priest Headdress, U.S. War Department Signal Corps, 1942. Prints & Photographs Division
Japanese POW at Guam, With Bowed Heads After Hearing Emperor Hirohito Make Announcement of Japan’s Unconditional Surrender, U.S. Navy, August 15, 1945. Prints & Photographs Division

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