DOBSON — Response to a program to collect and document local historical photos has been so good Surry County Historical Society President Dr. Annette Ayers has announced plans to make the collection effort a yearly program.
The second of two events scheduled to collect pictures documenting local lifestyles, individuals and structures was held Saturday at the Surry Community College Library.
“It’s more difficult than we thought it would be. It takes a lot of work to carefully document and log these photos after digitally preserving them,” explained Ayers. “We scan in the front and back of pictures of historical importance brought in to us and make them available on our website. Accuracy is so important.”
Ayers said that people bringing in pictures were encouraged to fill out a log listing any and all details they knew about the picture. She said the group has been surprised photos brought in not only included people but schools, architecture and military pictures from the early 1900s.
She speculated that the society may try and plan similar events next year in the early spring and late winter to better fit into the group’s yearly schedule of events.
“In the future I would like to see us consider taking this project and setting in up in different communities,” said Ayers.
Society member Walter White said that the goal of the group is to make this information accessible from the society’s website. He added he hopes this will encourage people to share information. The society’s website is surrycounty.pastperfect.com.
Members also helping with photo collection on Saturday included Wilma Hiatt, David Crawford, C.W. Hill, Ann Stewart and Esther Johnson.
“We are pioneers with this effort as a historical society,” said Ayers. “Usually a project like this is done by a university. We are being innovative.” Ayers said the society seeks to add a new endeavor and that the group is always open to new membership.
Renita Adams dropped by with some pre-1950s pictures for the society. She said it was her first time participating in a project like this. She was especially intrigued with a picture of her grandfather and his mules in a tobacco field posing with a fertilizer advertisement.
White told her he had seen similar poses with different fertilizer companies with local farmers. He and Ayers theorized the photos were taken for company newsletters. Ayers told Adams the shots represented a lifestyle where the work animals were “part of the family.” This lifestyle predates the emergence of tractor technology to farmers.
Ayers stressed that the society is seeking to document this body of knowledge before the last remaining people that know the information die. Often information about family photos is passed down as an oral tradition.
“In my family I am the one who is counted on from both sides to know all about the pictures,” said Ayers, a former history teacher. “”I made copies of photos and got the information from my great aunts. People value pictures. They’re were not many of them in previous days.”
Ironically, digital technology has made making copies of the pictures easier that it once was but has come along too late to help many.
“We hope the public will become as excited as we are about these photos,” added Ayers. “Our job is to acquire, document and be historically correct. We can’t deal in folklore.”
She said that people who wish to share pictures may contact her at 336-325-2161 and make plans to share the photos at a later date. Ayers said this information will help the society plan the sites for next year’s collection projects.
One of the most popular of the society’s ongoing projects is the annual Sonker Festival which will be held Oct. 6 from 1-5 p.m. at the Edwards-Franklin House. She said a variety of the fruit pastries will be offered including the regional favorite, sweet potato. The house will be open for touring by the public during the festival.
In November, the annual Victorian Open House will be held at Edwards-Franklin house. A featured speaker for the society’s Nov. 8 annual meeting has not been announced.
Reach David Broyles at firstname.lastname@example.org or 719-1952.