A Zero Job! Shoveling Out Refuse from the Hot Pools of Oil That Comes up from a Spouting Well


This 1923 photograph depicting a scene from the early history of the petroleum industry in Romania is from the Frank and Frances Carpenter Collection at the Library of Congress. Frank G. Carpenter (1855–1924) was an American writer of books on travel and world geography, whose works helped to popularize cultural anthropology and geography in the United States in the early years of the 20th century. Consisting of photographs taken and gathered by Carpenter and his daughter Frances (1890–1972) to illustrate his writings, the collection includes an estimated 16,800 photographs and 7,000 glass and film negatives. The full caption to the photograph reads: “A Zero job! Shoveling out refuse from the hot pools of oil that comes up from a spouting well.” In Carpenter’s New Geographical Reader: Europe (1924) Carpenter wrote: “In the mountains of Roumania there are millions of acres of forest, and in the same region are found rich deposits of coal, salt, and petroleum. Much of the coal oil and gasoline which the Germans used in the World War came from this part of Europe. They had conquered the Roumanians, and they worked the oil fields.”

Last updated: September 29, 2014