Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

Local News

March 24, 2013

Visions of the past

Public help sought in identifying people in a treasure trove of historical photos found at KCU

GRAYSON — There is a note of exasperation in Heidi Wineland’s voice as she describes the collections in back rooms at Kentucky Christian University’s Young Library. But it turns into tones of excitement when she talks about the discovery of hundreds of antique glass slides reflecting the history of the school, the city of Grayson and scenes from life throughout Appalachia during the early part of the past century.

“All of this was just packed to the gills with valuables and trash. There’s going to be years worth of stuff to do,” she said as she pointed out the progress made in recent months to identify and organize the collections, which have been accumulating at the library for years.

Wineland, a librarian and archivist, practically lights up as she describes the discovery of 200 glass slides in a closet during Christmas break.

“We had lots of staff around, so we were just going through them and holding them up,” she said, explaining the collection provided a series of fascinating scenes, including people and places immediately recognizable to KCU staff members such as the school’s founder on his mule-driven “Gospel Chariot” and early photos of the school’s campus. “Of the 200, half of them are KCU buildings or people, but about half of these things ... we don’t know.”

Among the images are photos of a blacksmith in Elliott County, well-attended baptisms along what may be the Big Sandy and Ohio rivers, “typical” mountain homes, a family portrait of “Devil Anse” Hatfield and his clan, flood scenes and other depictions of Appalachian life from the early 1900s into the World War II era. Wineland said her favorite from the collection is a picture of an unidentified young girl holding a rifle so long it extends beyond the frame. “A true mountain girl,” she said with a chuckle.

Wineland, her husband, John, and others divided the images into things they recognized as part of the school’s history, and labeled the unknown photos with descriptions such as “three kids on a log,” “man in a tie,” “serious man” or “elegant man.”

Based on the numbers and notes along the edges of the slides, Wineland said the collection seems to have been something used by the school’s first president while making presentations, speaking to church groups or seeking support for the school, and includes advertising for Grayson- and Ashland-based businesses that likely sponsored the slideshow. Somewhere in the school’s collections, she said she hopes to someday find the script used by the school president while the images were displayed.

Wineland said she recruited her husband, a history professor and dean of arts and science, to help clean the slides and make new photographs of the images, later noting they’ve been able to initiate the archival project on a zero budget, using available resources to preserve the images and pass them along.

“They weren’t in this shape when we found them,” John Wineland said, explaining each of the “Magic Lantern” slides was a precursor of the more-modern 35-mm slides, utilizing a photographic image sandwiched between two panes of glass. The slides had been kept dry and in the dark, he said, which helped preserve them, although many in the collection were cracked, broken or had signs of internal degradation.

To illuminate the pictures and make digital photos of each, John Wineland said he used a broad-spectrum “Happy Light,” often sold at drugstores as a tool against winter depression, his mother-in-law had given them a week before the slides were found. The reproduced images were then loaded onto the Young Library’s Facebook page with the hope of someone recognizing the pictures and identifying the people and places within.

His wife said the response was “immediate,” and included many personal observations and memories.

“People added great details of things like, ‘I remember when Mom said this,’ or ‘That’s when they rented those two rooms,” and there was a lot of back and forth between people,” she said. “The best thing we did was mislabel something,” because people who recognized the content were quick to set the record straight. Wineland said she encourages people to “just chatter away” in notes they add to the photos, explaining anecdotal information is often quite useful in the quest for archival facts.

Each of the pictures will ultimately be recorded in the Digital Library of Appalachia, she said, “but before we do that we want to get as much accurate information as possible.”

With information often limited to the hand-written notes on the frames of each picture, Wineland said there is no point in calling her with questions about the photos, although she has pledged to make herself available to take information someone has to offer.

“If they are local and want to come in and tell me what they know, I will do all the typing. Or, we can do that over the phone,” she said, repeating the school’s desire to have people add the information to the photos on Facebook if at all possible.

Wineland asks potential contributors to leave her a message at (606) 474-3241, explaining she often works during the evening and on weekends, and will return calls as time permits. The entire photo collection can be found at the Young Library/Kentucky Christian University page on Facebook. The first photos will primarily be the known images from the campus and Grayson, while pictures toward the end of the collection are among those with little or no known details.

TIM PRESTON can be reached at tpreston@dailyindependent.

com or (606) 326-2651.

Text Only
Local News
  • Boyd Democrats take floor at Elks

    Boyd County Democrats met at the Elks Lodge for a matchup between candidates for two of the hottest primary races in Boyd County: sheriff and judge-executive.
    The candidates, sponsored by the Boyd County Democratic Women’s Club, each took to the podium to face the crowd Tuesday night and discuss the candidacy and platforms for the race that is still over a month away.

    April 15, 2014

  • Shay receives 38 years for fatal shooting

    Casey R. Shay, 27, of Morehead, was sentenced Monday to 38 years in prison for the fatal shooting last year of Cassandra M. “Cassie” Owens, 21.

    April 15, 2014

  • 0416homegarden.jpg Space not problem with home garden

    Growing your own dinner is not a concept lost on Kenny Imel.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • Greenup court jumpstarts road repairs

    As part of the Greenup County Fiscal Court’s annual expenses, the court approved the first reading of an ordinance that allots up to $1.5 million for blacktopping damaged county roads.

    April 15, 2014

  • Nursing home reports drug theft to APD

    Woodland Oaks Health Care Facility, 1820 Oakview Road, on Monday reported the theft of 30 hydrocodone tablets from a secured area within the nursing home.

    April 15, 2014

  • Devices left from previous construction discovered

    All four lanes of U.S. 23 were shut down for nearly two hours Tuesday following the discovery of old explosives on a hillside rock cut.
    The devices apparently were left over from a previous construction project and were discovered by a crew working on the new Ironton-Russell Bridge, Russell Police Chief Tim Wilson said.

    April 15, 2014

  • Boyd walk to raise awareness of autism

    The differences in the nine children in Carla Malone’s classroom are striking.
    A few can talk, but some won’t make a sound and others jabber apparent nonsense sounds.
    There are playful children and those who keep to themselves. Some of the children can read and do other academic tasks. Schoolwork for others means matching pictures and doing exercises to develop fine motor skills, like learning to hold a pencil.

    April 15, 2014

  • Grimes outpaces McConnell in first quarter

    Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes has again outpaced her likely Republican general election opponent, incumbent Mitch McConnell, in fundraising during the first quarter — but she remains well behind McConnell in total fundraising and cash on hand.

    April 15, 2014

  • 0416explosives0166 copy.jpg UPDATE: U.S. 23 reopened; explosives eliminated

    More information on the U.S. 23 closure from the the Kentucky Department of Highways.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • BREAKING: Explosives find shuts down U.S. 23

    All four lanes of U.S. 23 have been shut down to the discovery of undetonated explosives on a hillside, authorities said.

    April 15, 2014