This Man Invented Cat Memes in 1906

Photographer Harry Whittier Frees (1879-1953) dressed up live cats, dogs, and piglets in tiny clothes and spent hours posing them for novelty postcards. He changed entertainment forever.

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"A difficult subject"

"A difficult subject"Harry Whittier Frees
Like the caption to this 1937 article in LIFE magazine suggests, Harry Whittier Frees lived for "difficult subjects." Working only with live, humanely-treated animals, Frees earned a career in captioned pet photography nearly 100 years before the Internet. Gathered here are choice shots from his book The Little Folks of Animal Land (1915) and his other incredible collections.

Two dogs hugging

Two dogs hugging Harry Whittier Frees
(from LIFE magazine)

"The Keennose boys make a sly deal."

"The Keennose boys make a sly deal."Harry Whittier Frees

"Rosie was a patient model."

"Rosie was a patient model."Harry Whittier Frees
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"Lily Bufkins Cuts a Wisdom Tooth"

"Lily Bufkins Cuts a Wisdom Tooth"Harry Whittier Frees

"Miss Kindeyes' kindergarten class."

"Miss Kindeyes' kindergarten class."Harry Whittier Frees

"Daddy Fourpaw rescues Blink."

"Daddy Fourpaw rescues Blink."Harry Whittier Frees

"Barker Reaches High C."

"Barker Reaches High C."Harry Whittier Frees

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"Blink and Daddy in the Ring"

"Blink and Daddy in the Ring"Harry Whittier Frees

"Resting in the Hammock"

"Resting in the Hammock"Harry Whittier Frees

The Catterwaul Band Goes on Tour

The Catterwaul Band Goes on TourHarry Whittier Frees

A note from Mr. Frees

A note from Mr. FreesHarry Whittier Frees
Read the entire book for free here.

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