Historical county photographs wanted

Published 10:10 pm Tuesday, April 4, 2017

A joint venture beginning soon will preserve Isle of Wight County history by saving pictures for future generations to enjoy.

Friends of the Smithfield Library and the Isle of Wight County Historical Society are partnering for the Digital Scanning Vintage Images Project. Local history will be preserved by recording and archiving photography spanning more than a hundred years.

“We want to save these images so students, families and scholars will have access to them in one place for future research,” Isle of Wight County Historical Society president Carolyn Keen said.

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The images will be enhanced and preserved in a digital image database collection. This collection will be maintained for the public at several locations, including libraries and museums.

“These things are irreplaceable,” Keen said. “There are times I’ve actually gone to the dump and there are suitcases full of old pictures in there. We need to make people aware that there is a lot of interest in them.”

She said the history of the area is “incredible,” with stories of rural commerce and historical significance, such as the Oyster Wars between pirates, authorities and legal watermen.

“I’ve wished I’ve had enough time in the day just to do research on the oyster men,” she said.

She’s also fascinated by the 267 country stores catalogued between Suffolk, Southampton, Surry and Isle of Wight from 1750 to 1950.

“That’s where your telephone was, your first gas station, where you picked up your mail,” she said. “They even had coffins there.”

The Blackwater Regional Library Smithfield Branch on James Street will host project members on April 29 from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Photographs may be brought to the library for scanning and information gathering, then returned to the owners.

Keen said photographs may also be submitted electronically or scanned at owners’ residences for their convenience.

“We’ll go right to their house and scan them on site,” she said. “If they’re not able to make it for any reason, we’ll work with them.”

She’s excited to discover more historic pictures of buildings, farm scenes and the waterfront.

“When somebody walks in with a picture of an old store or historic home that we’re able to identify, it’s incredible,” she said. “It’s better than winning the lotto.”

Call 357-2173 or email vahistorichouses@aol.com for more information.