Ribble, Rufus


American, 1878–1967


For nearly forty years, from 1919 to 1957, photographer Rufus E. "Red" Ribble traveled throughout the coalfields of southern West Virginia to photograph coal miners, their families, and their towns. As an itinerant commercial photographer, Ribble mostly employed a large Cirkuit camera designed to rotate on a fixed tripod and take a continuous panoramic image of up to 360 degrees. The large negatives (app. 8 x 48 inches) were then contact printed. Ribble often took big group pictures, such as miners assembled before machinery, church congregations, school classes, or family reunions, and he aimed to sell copies to each individual depicted. He also took spectacular landscape views of the West Virginia coal towns, showing the company housing, the railyards, and the mineworks. The landscapes also depict the ravaging of the mountainous landscape to extract and ship the coal, and to create the temporary boomtowns that housed the miners.

Artworks by Ribble, Rufus

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