Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Taylor Matthews photos

Yesterday Charita Goshay from the Repository called. She wondered if we had copies of the photos Taylor Matthews took, documenting Canton's African American community in the 1940s and 1950s.

We exhibited his work sometime before I came in the fall of 2001. When I got here, the matted photos were still here. Our Director Joyce Yut suggested that I scan them all before returning them to the owners.

I am so glad I did!

Charita told me the originals have been destroyed! So the scans I have are likely the only images left documenting a huge slice of Canton's history!

The scene that played out in my office after I hung up the phone was a cross between panic and frustration. I KNEW I had scanned those photos. But it was 10 years ago now! Where did I save them?

To clear off space on the hard drive of my last computer, I burned a lot of my old files onto CDs. I looked through all of them, trying to find the scans. Nothing.

I thought maybe I had given the CD to our library. Nothing.

I came back to my office, searched through more drawers, popped more CDs into my computer. Nothing.

Then, suddenly, it hit me.

They are on my current hard drive! I saved them in the "Collections" folder, for some reason. I guess when I did it, I hadn't written my first book yet, and I didn't have a huge file of scanned images yet. I think I'll move them there now, because that would be the most logical place to store photos.

I made copies of the 63 scans I have for Charita, who was very excited to get them. (Very excited is probably a vast understatement...she was practically euphoric!)

Needless to say, I was relieved to find the scans. But I was also humbled to think that I had saved such an important part of Canton's story. When I scanned them all those years ago, I was just making copies. I never imagined the originals would some day be gone.

Preserving history is a great honor and a privilege!

Here is one of the Taylor Matthew photos:

Esther Archer in City Council meeting. She was the only woman and black member of City Council. She was first elected in 1947 and served four terms.

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