September 17, 2005
Boing Boing has a nice link to early American color photographs from the Great Depression. Most of those images are Kodacolor or Kodachrome (as an aside, check out this page on how to date early Kodachrome slides). I've long been fascinated with early photography from the generation before this, ie from the turn of the century. Most of these are Autochromes, the first widely available color photo process invented by the Lumier Brothers.
This is a pretty good timeline of the development of color photography.
The image below is from WWI for me it shows why Autochromes are compelling... there is just something so tangible and accessible about them versus early black and white or hand colored images.
Some linkage: early Russian photography, early French photography, World War I color photography, & a sampling of Lumiere Studio work. More WWI photos here and here (pages 6-8). This gallery of framed autochromes shows how saturated and "real" they can be.
Autochromes are often available on ebay, just search for Autochrome.
Update: Exhibition at UK's National Media Museum: Autochome- The Dawn of Color