Photo Mystery Monday: October 19, 2015

This is one in a series of posts inviting our users to learn how to get the most information out of historic photos. We’ll post a new photo mystery every Monday, and then follow up with more information about the image on Friday. Get the conversation started by commenting on the blog and sharing it with your friends and family.

Be a photo detective! What is going on in this picture? What clues do you see? Where in Florida could this be?

What people, objects and activities do you notice? Let us know in the comments! Don’t be afraid to state the obvious. Noticing details can lead to greater insight.

Try an artist’s trick. Divide the photo into four quadrants and study each section. What new details do you see? Based on what you have observed, what can you infer from this photograph? What questions do you have?

Come back on Friday when we will update the post with more identifying information!


For Teachers: Photo interpretation is a great critical thinking activity for students. The Photo Analysis Worksheet from the National Archives lets you use any photo as an opportunity to analyze primary source documents.


This photo shows a safe being delivered to the Polk County Bank in Bartow by means of an ox team pulling a flatcar over temporarily laid railroad tracks.

Reader Patsy Glasscock noticed details such as the prevalence of men wearing hats, the difference between the men in more casual clothes compared to those in business attire, the lack of women in the photo and the presence of a child.

Several readers mentioned the gap in the rails on the dirt street, indicating that the track was temporary. Jon Hoppensteadt observed that no one in the photo was armed, indicating that the safe was probably empty.

We had originally had this photo dated some time in the 1800s. As Jo Reimer noted, the Polk County bank was organized in 1886. Thanks to diligent research by blog readers, and with confirmation from our Archives Historian, we’ve updated the catalog record.

Thanks all, and join us next Monday for a new photo!