Preserving Eureka Springs' historic photos on digital media is complete

Tuesday, August 18, 2009
Eureka Springs Historical Museum Director Ginni Miller checks out the computer dedicated to a collection of thousands of historical photos of Eureka Springs and its surrounding area. The photos, available to the public to download, were scanned in from three local collections by Historic Preservation Officer Glenna Booth under a $25,000 General Improvement grant from the Department of Arkansas Heritage. Photo by Chip Ford

EUREKA SPRINGS -- A collection of thousands of historic Eureka Springs and area photos is now accessible to the public on computer at three locations, thanks to a grant from the Department of Arkansas Heritage.

The General Improvement Fund grant of $25,000 was made available in 2008-09 to the Community Development Partnership (CDP). Eureka Springs Historic Preservation Officer Glenna Booth took on the project, a monumental task of scanning photographs from several collections.

By far the largest collection is held by the historic downtown branch of Cornerstone Bank, from which Booth scanned 3,300 photographs.

More are being added all the time, as the bank's chairman of the board, John Fuller Cross, is a native Eurekan and avid local historian. He has been compiling the bank's collection for decades.

Booth also scanned photos from the Eureka Springs Historical Museum and the Eureka Springs Carnegie Library collections.

These scans were placed on hard drives purchased with grant money and set up with computers at each of the three locations: the bank, the museum and the library.

Photos are accessed by use of the free Google software, Picasa, which Booth said is easy to use.

"You type a keyword, and all the photos related to that keyword appear instantly as thumbnails," Booth said. "You can then click on a thumbnail to enlarge it."

She said all the bank's photos, which are in filing cabinets and have a notebook catalog, are captioned using the bank's notations and catalog numbers.

The same goes for any photos at the museum, with the museum's accession number. Some of the photos are duplicates located at both the bank and the museum, and they will have cross-reference numbers, she said.

All of these photos are accessible to the public free of charge, Booth said. Those who want to bring a flash drive or CD can download photos they want.

Both the museum and the library have printers. Patrons can have photos printed for a fee to cover costs, depending on photographic quality.

Carnegie Library Director Jean Elderwind said the collection has been invaluable in just the week they have had it.

"It's amazing," she said. "Glenna has really indexed it well. I myself had an immediate application for this database. The state library in Little Rock is moving its offices, and the state librarian, Carolyn Ashcraft, called me and wanted early black and white photos of the four Carnegie libraries.

"A year ago that would have been a challenge to locate them and get them printed, but we popped out two really good photos of the early Eureka library. I didn't have to go anywhere. They were right here in the library."

Some of the grant money had been intended also to provide a microfilm printer for the library's microfilm collection, but Booth and Elderwind said that old-style printers are no longer used or even available. New technology has produced microfilm readers that connect to a computer so patrons can read documents on-screen and can control the size and resolution, as well as print them out.

The library will look at getting such a reader later, Elderwind said, as funds become available.

Museum Director Ginni Miller said it's been exciting to have the collection accessible at the museum.

"We really appreciate how much Glenna and the CDP have done to make this possible for the community," she said. "Everyone is thrilled, and I have people coming from out of town to use it."

Booth said she will continue to scan and upload new photos as they come in.

"I know John (Cross) has more that have come in, not in the original collection," Booth said. Cross also has stereopticon photos to be included.

The collection is not static, Booth explained. Each research station has a notebook in which patrons can supply information about the photographs that they may have to add to their historical accuracy.

And, of course, Booth is interested in any new sources of photos and documents people may have.

"If people have things to share, I'm more than happy to include them," she said.

The historic Cornerstone Bank building is located at 70 S. Main St. and can be reached at (479) 253-3000; the Eureka Springs Historical Museum is steps away, at 95 S. Main, phone 253-9417; and the Carnegie Library is located at 194 Spring St., phone 253-8754.

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  • Unless it is prevented by the wording of the grant, I think that it would be a good fund raiser for both the library and museum if they were able to sell DVD's or a series of CD's with these pictures on them.

    They could remain free for the viewers in Eureka.

    I would like to see the pictures but it's a long drive from California to Eureka! :-)

    Tom

    -- Posted by TVTOM on Wed, Aug 19, 2009, at 2:43 PM
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