22 Photos That Pioneered Lolcats And Animal Memes A Century Ago

Published June 26, 2016
Updated June 23, 2016

American photographer Harry Whittier Frees made a career out of perfectly crafted cute animal photography starting in 1906. Frees used his novelty photos for postcards, calendars, and children’s books.

Frees dressed the animals and posed them in human situations with props. He used his own cats as models as well as the pets of his friends and neighbors

“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,” Frees said.

Take a look at Frees’ original cat memes — or lolcats — and plenty of other just plain adorable baby animals:

Wedding
Harry Whittier Frees/Library of Congress

Waterwell
Harry Whittier Frees/Library of Congress

Watering The Flowers
Harry Whittier Frees/Library of Congress

Washing Dishes
Harry Whittier Frees/Library of Congress

Train Ride
Harry Whittier Frees/Library of Congress

Towing
Harry Whittier Frees/Library of Congress

Tangled
Harry Whittier Frees/Library of Congress

Swing
Harry Whittier Frees/Library of Congress

Sewing Clothes
Harry Whittier Frees/Library of Congress

Ready For Bed
Harry Whittier Frees/Library of Congress

Push Cart
Harry Whittier Frees/Library of Congress

Planting
Harry Whittier Frees/Library of Congress

Pins
Harry Whittier Frees/Library of Congress

Picnic
Harry Whittier Frees/Library of Congress

Nurse
Harry Whittier Frees/Library of Congress

Laundry
Harry Whittier Frees/Library of Congress

Joy Ride
Harry Whittier Frees/Library of Congress

Fire
Harry Whittier Frees/Library of Congress

Fiddle
Harry Whittier Frees/Library of Congress

Diving
Harry Whittier Frees/Library of Congress

Cooking
Harry Whittier Frees/Library of Congress

Airplane
Harry Whittier Frees/Library of Congress


Next, check out the seven cutest animals you've never seen before. Then, jump to the other end of the spectrum and have a look at the world's ugliest animals.

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All That's Interesting is a Brooklyn-based digital publisher that seeks out the stories to illuminate the past, present, and future.