Images: sugar cane past

Sugar cane harvesting

Description below of cane harvesting pulled from Cultivation of Sugar Cane, in Two Parts by William C. Stubbs, A.M, Ph.D., director of Sugar Experiment Station, Audubon Park, New Orleans, LA. Published 1900.

That last sentence is missing a phrase. It should read: “A good cutter in good cane will average about three ton of cane a day.”

Harvesters/Planters: Women

Harvesting sugar cane, Georgia. Date unknown.

South Sea Islander women plant sugar cane in a Queensland field, 1897.

Library of Congress, William Henry Jackson photographer. Women cutting cane in a Baton Rouge, LA field. Btw 1880-1897.

Image from the Maui sugar museum of cane field workers, 1920.

Painter Laura Kina, takes the female workers of Hawaii’s sugar cane fields as her subject for a 2011 series called SUGAR.

Cane Fire by Laura Kina.

Harvesters/planters: MEN

1980s image, sugar cane cutter harvesting cane from burned fields, Clewiston, FL.
1980s. Cane cutter harvesting from burned fields, Clewiston, FL.

Clewiston, FL bills itself as the “sweetest city in America,” because of its sugar cane fields and because it’s the home of U.S. Sugar Corporation, the WalMart of the sugar industry. This June 2012 story from The Guardian discusses the not-so-sweet side of sugar production and labor in the U.S.

Postcard, circa 1960s, promoting Clewiston, FL “Everglades” sugarcane.
1939, cane field, Clewiston, FL
Library of Congress, circa 1939, Marion Post Walcott. Clewiston, FL sugar cane harvesters for U.S. Sugar.
Library of Congress, circa 1939, commissary and houses for black sugar cane workers of U.S. Sugar, Clewiston, FL. Photographer Marion Post Walcott.
Library of Congress, Sugar cane harvesters, Clewiston, FL, U.S. Sugar. Photographer Marion Post Walcott.
Library of Congress, New Iberia, LA cane harvesting, 1938. Photographer Lee Russell.
Library of Congress, New Iberia, LA. Sugar cane harvester. Photographer Lee Russell.
Library of Congress, New Iberia, LA cane harvester worker having lunch, 1938. Photographer Lee Russell.
Library of Congress, New Iberia, LA. Sugar cane worker, 1938. Photographer Lee Russell.

The Cane Cutters, the story of Queensland sugar can cutters. Made by The National Film Board 1948. Directed by Hugh McInnes.

Cutting and Harvesting sugar cane in Louisiana. At Bridgeman Art Library, private collection.

The following “sugar cane” mural by George Beattie, was one of four designed for and displayed in the GA Department of Agriculture building from 1956 until 2011 when they were ordered removed by incoming Agriculture Commissioner because of their “controversial” nature. From Aug. 2012 to Jan. 2013 they have been the centerpiece of a GA Museum of Art exhibit, “George Beattie’s Murals” where their aesthetics and politics have been the subject of public discussion.

Group in field of cotton and sugar cane. Photo by Robert E. Williams (1888 until around 1908).

Sugar cane consumption/production miscellany


Library of Congress. Photographer William Henry Jackson. Louisiana cane field, 1880-1897.

Photo from Maui sugar museum. Train hauling cane, 1920.

Diego Rivera’s 1931 mural, “Sugar Cane.”

Diego Rivera’s 1931 panel “Slavery in the Sugar Plantation.”


5 thoughts on “Images: sugar cane past

  1. To whom it may concern:

    I am a creative writer, and I am researching sugar cane, and sugar cane plantations. I am interested in using some of the information and photos from this blog in my work, the blog in question is A sugar cane’s Past. Who do I seek permission of use to do so? Also if I am quoting an article’s quote, who would I put as saying the quote? I notice that some of the photos and videos are from the library of congress, can you give me information that would lead me in the right direction in obtaining additional information about sugar cane plantations in the South? Your help will be deeply appreciated.

    Cheryl L. Cropper
    Creative Writer

  2. Cheryl,

    I suppose as the blog’s creator and central contributor, it’s my permission that you’d seek. There isn’t much original text here so I’m not quite sure what you would need to cite specifically beyond citing the blog’s existence itself and then if you use materials from the sources cited within, you’d cite them directly depending on what you used. I’ve tried to provide links and publication details for materials so readers can find their path back to primary sources as much as possible. The Library of Congress materials I found by searching their Prints & Photographs Online Catalog site with keywords like “photograph” and “sugar cane” and “fields”. If those led me to series that seemed to be from a particular photographer, I then searched that person’s name. I have to say that since our focus was on sugar cane plantations in Georgia esp. and that was not a state that saw a great deal of development (past and present) of that crop (compared to Hawaii, Louisiana and Florida) I would advise doing research into those states because you might have greater success (especially with Hawaii where sugar cane farming is still happening). You might explore different state historical society sites or agricultural offices where there might be archives to use. The 1900 planting manual I found via the University of California’s Digital Library. A great deal is trial and error. If you don’t have access to a variety of databases via your personal computer you might try researching via a university or public library to get better access to the nooks and crannies of the internet that might yield fruit … or cane, in this case. Good luck! — Jules Odendahl-James, Resident Dramaturgy, Duke University.

  3. Pingback: Images and Identities of the Sugarcane Worker | Ethical Sugar

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