Original archive of photographs and ephemera belonging to an ambulance driver in Southern California, 1951-1952

N.p. N.p., Circa 1951-1952. Vintage string bound photograph album belonging to William Arthur Slaughter, an ambulance driver in Southern California, circa 1951 and 1952. Included with the album are a pay stub dated June 1948 and noting Slaughter's previous employment by Southern Pacific Company as a railway lineman, two driver's identification cards dated 1951 and 1952, a promotional matchbook bearing the name and number of Schaefer Ambulance Service in California, and approximately 24 newspaper clippings covering accidents in Los Angeles, several showing photographs of Slaughter. Stamp of photographer Lew Nichols on the versos of nearly all of the photographs.

The album contains 36 black-and-white photographs, with six additional loose photographs also included with the collection. Manuscript ink annotations by Slaughter provide captions for many of the photographs, identifying subjects and locations, and noting details about the various incidents captured in the album. One particularly striking caption for a photograph of a woman being carried out on a stretcher reads: "Honeymoon Cottage / Her Husband Died during the night / she was found next morning unconsius / Suficated Gas Heater / in coma for 30 days then Died / Maried only Two weeks" [sic].

As the above caption implies, the incidents captured in the album span from asphyxiation to heart attacks, although the majority of photographs document automobile accidents—almost certainly one of the main causes of death in California in the 1950s. The album also includes several photographs of Slaughter and the other ambulance drivers "off duty," as well as one photograph of a new Cadillac apparently used as an ambulance. A grisly and fascinating collection of accident photography, capturing the dark side of the golden age of the automobile in postwar America.

Album 12 x 9 inches. Photographs range from 10 x 8 inches to 5 x 4 inches. Photographs Very Good plus, album Very Good, with front board detached from the binding.

[Book #155462]