Harry Whittier Frees

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Photograph by Frees from 1914

Harry Whittier Frees (1879–1953) was an American photographer who created novelty postcards and children's books based on his photographs of posed animals.[1] He dressed the animals and posed them in human situations with props, often with captions; these can be seen as progenitors of modern lolcats.[2]

On the choice of cats for his photos Frees states in his book Animal Land on the Air:

Rabbits are the easiest to photograph in costume, but incapable of taking many 'human' parts. Puppies are tractable when rightly understood, but the kitten is the most versatile animal actor, and possesses the greatest variety of appeal.[3]

Frees was born in Reading, Pennsylvania, in 1879, after which his family moved to Oaks, Pennsylvania, where he did his famous works. In the 1940s, he moved to Florida, where he battled cancer, but ended up committing suicide in 1953.


  1. ^ "Harry Whittier Frees (1879-1953)". One More River. Archived from the original on 2014-05-16. Retrieved 2014-05-15. 
  2. ^ "Speaking of Pictures These are Harry Frees's Lifework". Life Magazine. Retrieved 2014-05-15. 
  3. ^ "LOLcats: Pictures By Harry Whittier Frees Show Felines Subject Of Fun Even 100 Years Ago". Huffington Post UK. Retrieved 2014-05-15. 

Additional References[edit]

  • Cats, Dogs & Other Rabbits: The Extraordinary World of Harry Whittier Frees by Harry Whittier Frees and Sylvie Treille, Dewi Lewis Publishing, 2006.
  • בר, ראם: ”חיות בלבוש אדם ומסורות חזותיות בשירי אמא אווזה של הארי ויטייר פריס“, עיונים בספרות ילדים 20 (תשע″א, 2011) עמ′ 55-16. This Hebrew article focuses on Frees′ photographs for “The Animal Mother Goose” and presents their design techniques, from straightforward mimicry of previous illustrations, through adherence to traditional iconography, to a parody on popular American visual motives not otherwise related to the rhymes. It includes a review of anthropomorphic animals in art, their photographic versions and their becoming a feature of children's literature.

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