It just got a little easier to travel back in time. Thanks to a $25,000 Texas Treasures (TexTreasures) grant from the Texas State Library and Archives Commission (TSLAC), Central University Libraries Digital Collections is currently digitizing and annotating 1,317 photographs, documents and ephemera from The George W. Cook Dallas/Texas Image Collection. The collection, held by the DeGolyer Library, contains a rich overview of Texas history with an emphasis on Dallas.
The strength of the Cook Collection lies in its images: more than 2,200 photographs and 12,000 postcards depicting everyday life, ranging from workers wrapping saltines at Brown Cracker and Candy Co. to tornado damage in Garland, as well as more controversial and contentious subjects, including postcards of a Confederate monument and lynching.
Many of the postcards are real photographic postcards, not prints of photographs, which adds to their value, says Anne Peterson, DeGolyer Library’s curator of photographs.
“Historians, authors, researchers, educators, anyone interested in learning more about Dallas and Texas history will find this collection a treasure trove of materials in various formats,” Peterson says.
Peterson and Cindy Boeke, CUL digital collections developer, co-authored the grant proposal. “There is a scarcity of Texas photography from the mid-19th century to the early 20th century, and it is always of interest for research,” Peterson says.
The grant, awarded in August 2015, marks the sixth consecutive year CUL Digital Collections has received a TexTreasures grant from TSLAC.
“Since 2007, the Digital Collections has received $200,000 cumulatively and uploaded 8,859 items thanks to the generosity and foresight of the Commission,” Boeke says.
The digitization project will make important primary resources available online for scholars and history enthusiasts around the globe, a prospect welcomed by historians and authors.
“While collection metadata is often useful to suggest possible solutions to image searches, nothing makes such a search more efficient than access to the actual pictures. This is obviously particularly important for the researchers who cannot easily and inexpensively drop by the collecting institution,” says David Haynes, author of Catching Shadows: A Directory of 19th Century Texas Photographers and formerly with the Institute of Texas Cultures.
The project is due to be completed by August 2016. Many items are already online and can be viewed at http://digitalcollections.smu.edu/all/cul/gcd/.