This weeks Sepia Saturday photo was taken at the Potsdam Conference in 1945. These were the men, the small group of men, who made decisions that would affect the lives of the rest of the world. This is as it always will be. There will always be one group in control while the rest of us get on with our lives.

The photos below were taken long before the Potsdam Conference. These photos were taken long before World War I. But these men, their lives, were still shaped by what happened far from their prairie homes. The decisions made by the ruling class had consequences which directly affected them.

Click on either image to see it larger.

Two men from Nebraska, their photos faded to being merely ghost images, are long forgotten, just as what happened at Potsdam is forgotten. And yet these men are just as much part of our history as the small group of men who made the decisions for the world. All of them gone now, all of them ghosts from the past. But only a handful of men made an indelible mark that the rest of the world remembers. These Nebraska farmers had a much smaller sphere of influence and may not be remembered by anyone.

This week I have I have been featuring photos from an old album that once belonged to Gertrude Helen Rich Bowen. Perhaps you remember past posts about Gertrude the schoolteacher from Nebraska. If not you can see other posts that featured Gertrude by clicking on her name in the labels section.

To see the other posts from the album:

the Rich family, a photo so faded that I had no idea there were so many people in it until I brought it back to life,

the family home on the Nebraska prairie,

the barn with the work horses,

and the children of the prairie.

Over the coming days there will be more images from this album.


  1. There is a great deal of nobility in the faces of those men.

  2. And now you have given them their moment of fame too; no longer ghosts but forever memorialised in the blogosphere. To me they are far more interesting than assorted heads of state assembled for a conference, no matter how significant.

  3. You've added to the poignancy of the photos by putting them into context, even if their identities are forgotten. The silvering on that first photo makes it very difficult to scan, doesn't it? That cowboy could well have been wondering what the future might bring, but I doubt he ever imagined a silver halo.

  4. Anonymous3/15/2013

    I must echo what Brett Payne said - you have given these lone fellows the dignity of the group at the Pottsdam conference and then some.

  5. These ghostly images seem more real that all those Potsdam faces.

  6. What strikes me about that second photograph is the important role of the horse. I am reminded of photographs taken thirty or so years later with people posing with trucks and cars. Lovely post, as usual I thoroughly enjoyed reading it.

  7. Really errie how the man and part of the horse's head (but not the body) is almost faded away....good post.

  8. I love many things about and around farmers. So glad photos of people like them still exist; and that you share them on the blogosphere.

  9. "And yet these men are just as much part of our history as the small group of men who made the decisions for the world." I like that. That's what make me ponder about my own inherited collection of family photos and postcards as well.

  10. Absolutely your photos speak volumes. I just adore that horse's face!

  11. Super photos and like Alan, I think the second is a photo of the horse not the man. The first has a quality that could be the cover illustration for a novel.

  12. What would those men in Potsdam do without all the little people slaving away under them?
    That was one wonderful post. Very haunting photos and very thought provoking text.

  13. Stunning photographs for their faded qualities. Indeed, the little people is what makes this society work, otherwise, those who rules would just be stupidly sitting there, turning their thumbs...
    Great post!!