[Annotated Photograph Album Documenting the Aftermath of the Great Galveston Hurricane]
[Galveston, Tx. Henry H. Morris, 1900].  leaves, illustrated with twenty-four sepia-toned photographs, each 4.5 x 6.5 inches. Oblong slim quarto. Contemporary black pebbled cloth, with "Photographs" stamped in gilt on front cover. Minor edge wear. A few leaves with minor chipping at outer margin, first blank leaf and first leaf of photos detached but present. Photographs in excellent condition. Three-color label on inside front cover reading, "Mom's. The Reliable Photographer. Cor. of Centre & Market Streets Galveston, Texas." Very good. Item #3968
An enthralling and unusually graphic collection of original photographs produced in the immediate aftermath of the Great Galveston Hurricane of 1900. The photographs feature a wide range of subjects demonstrating the destruction of the Big Blow, and are all accompanied by a brief typed caption providing vital information on their subject matter. The photographs feature catastrophic scenes at the railroad, a cave-in at "Rosenberg's Orphan's Home," and further destruction at St. John's Church, the Denver-Resurvey School, Sacred Heart Church, the Power House at the City Street Railroad, First Baptist Church, Lucas Terrace, "One of the Public Schools and Old Women's Home," Grain Elevator A, Ritter's Cafe, St. Patrick's Church, and a pair of "Purcell Homes" leaning markedly to the left.
Other pictures feature "Debris, 19th St. & Ave. O. looking north," leveled houses at the corner of 24th Street and Avenue O, the damage done all the way down Post Office Street, a longer view of the wreckage "From Beach looking north over the city," a house lying on its side at 15th Street & Avenue K, a field of debris at 15th Street & Avenue M, and an image of eighteen blocks, "once thickly populated," that were cleared in a "clean sweep" after the hurricane.
The most affecting photograph pictures dozens of dead bodies in a basement or warehouse setting, and is labeled, "One of the Morgues." Another image along these lines features five survivors "Burying the Deade - on spots where found." And yet another, showing bodies next to a pile of wooden debris from which a plume of smoke emanates is labeled, "Burning the Dead."
The photographs were produced by Galveston photographer Henry Hyams Morris (1869-1956), who was one of the lucky survivors of the Big Blow. Morris set himself up as a photographer in 1885 and worked in Galveston until his retirement in 1945. In addition to his pictures of the Galveston hurricane, Morris won numerous photographic contests and shot portraits of contemporary luminaries such as Jack London, Jack Johnson, Theodore Roosevelt, Benjamin Harrison, John Philip Sousa, and General Miles. He was a charter member of the Photographers Association of Texas and served for a time as its president. A label affixed to the inside front cover emanates from a Galveston photographic studio called Mom's, located at the corner Centre and Market streets. Contemporary directories do not record a studio at that address at the time of the hurricane, but perhaps it came to Galveston a bit later.
"Between 6,000 and 8,000 people in the city of Galveston had died, and estimated casualties for the entire island ranged from 10,000 to 12,000. Property damage is impossible to estimate by current standards, but contemporary figures ranged from twenty to thirty million dollars. A high-water mark of 15.7 feet and high winds had destroyed a third of the city, including 2,636 houses and 300 feet or 1,500 acres of shoreline. The sixteen ships anchored in the harbor at the time of the storm also suffered extensive damage. More violent and costlier hurricanes have struck coastal areas of the United States since 1900, but because of the death toll the Galveston storm that year was in the 1980s still called the worst recorded natural disaster ever to strike the North American continent" - Handbook of Texas online.