Lost historical finds can seem rare nowadays. There will always be mysteries, but, with everything living online these days, it’s not often an age-old junk box yields 73 previously unseen photos from the world’s most famous crime photographer. That’s exactly what happened to David Young, though, who realized the photos from a box he bought at a Philly second-hand store in the ‘70s contained photos that actually belonged to Arthur “Weegee” Fellig.
Christopher Bonanos, the author of Flash: The Making Of Weegee The Famous, a biography of Weegee and “the first comprehensive biography of Weegee,” detailed the photos in a new piece for Vulture. According to his book’s bio, what made the photographer so good at what he did was that he seemed to show up to a crime scene at the same time the cops did—that’s how he got his nickname, a play on him being “a human Ouija board.” Bonanos, nor the International Center of Photography, had seen these particular shots, and he writes that “several of them rank with Weegee’s best work.”
What’s even better is that Bonanos can link them to events at the time (he did this with 80% of the photos, he wrote). He tweeted out one of the photos, along with his lengthy, thorough process to identify what was going on and at what date. He titled it “Kids Gawk at Car-Wreck Site; Observer Unimpressed” and looked at street signs, 1940s tax photos of the local buildings, and old newspapers to pinpoint the event. It’s tiring to just think about all that research, let alone do it.
Head over to Vulture to see a number of the unearthed photos, which include shots of the infamous Father Divine’s followers celebrating his release from police custody; survivors of a car crash, and eery portraits of a rich teen couple who just murdered the girl’s mother. Even if you’re not into vintage crime—although you should be, because it’s fascinating—this find and the photos remains a compelling curiosity.