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Hunting for Photographs

May 2, 2013

I and Tim Schlak, Greta Grond, and Sarah Kaltenbach are hunting–for photographs of Orange City. We have signed a contract with Arcadia Publishing for a photographic history of Orange City.

The plan is for a book of 6 chapters, fitting within the parameters the publisher has set for its local history-through-photographs approach:

  1. The Dutch Colony and Henry Hospers: 1869-1901
  2. The New Court House Years: 1902-1929
  3. Depression and War: 1930-1945
  4. Northwestern: From Academy to College, 1882 to the Present
  5. The Tulip Festival: 1936 to the Present
  6. Into the 21st Century: 1946 to the Present

Four students in my history of Iowa course last semester drafted the Northwestern chapter. Sarah (my student assistant–and one of the four who drafted the Northwestern chapter) is working on the Tulip Festival chapter this semester. Meanwhile, Tim and Greta (library) are working on contacting sources for photos and scanning materials. The book ms. is due this Oct. 15, so that it will be ready for the 2014 Tulip Festival. (All profits will go to the library; this is a NWC library and history project.)

What surprises me is how few photos we are turning up after 1930. At present, we are having to rely on scanning newspaper photographs–not the best source for good digitized photos. (Even so, let me applaud the wonders of a handheld scanner! Used properly, it makes far less onerous than otherwise the task of scanning things from huge bound volumes that are often fragile.) The local newspaper tossed its negatives a few years back … and I wonder how much that is the case for other collections, personal and institutional. Also, perhaps the college and the festival functioned as photographic “hogs” for locals. Besides taking pictures of family and friends, there seemed little reason to take–or to keep–pictures of the town?

The hunt goes on! Do let me know if you have some input into all this, photographic or otherwise.

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