African-Americans have been an integral part of Lucas County life for decades, but images of African-Americans are just a tiny fraction of the Toledo-Lucas County Public Library's photographic archive.
Library officials yesterday added to their archive by inviting the public to share old photos featuring African-American subjects. For several hours, library workers scanned photos onto computers in the Art Tatum African-American Resource Center at the system's Kent branch, 3101 Collingwood Blvd.
"We need more documentation of the black experience in Toledo," said Wade Harrison, a South Toledo resident who brought several photos to the library.
One of Mr. Harrison's photographs shows him at age 3, looking into the camera with wide eyes. The photo was taken in 1970 by Mr. Harrison's father, Grover Cummings, who was one of the first African-American photographers at The Blade.
The library system has about 80,000 photographs showing snapshots of community life in its online database, called Images in Time. Only about 250 of the database photos feature African- Americans, said Donna Christian, a local history and genealogy librarian.
The library publicized its search for any photos showing African-Americans by advertising in the local media and mailing more than 1,000 flyers to library members. The campaign lured 10
people to the library who contributed about 50 photos.
"We got a lot of good photos. I think it was well worth doing," said Pauline Kynard, supervisor of the Art Tatum African-American Resource Center. "We're going to do this again because so far everyone has said they have more photos or more people they can contact."
One contributor who is planning to bring more photos is Shirley Spencer-DeGoldsby, a 1969 Scott High School graduate who served in the Ohio Air National Guard. She brought a few photos yesterday of herself posing with other members of the Guard, but said she has more pictures to scan into the archive.
"I'll go and find the rest of my photos and bring them to the library later," she said.
Ms. Kynard said she is hoping to keep the scanning equipment at the Kent branch for the rest of this week so more residents can come in with their photos. She said the library wants to see all types of photos, from church groups to candid shots.
Kathryn Franklin brought a variety of photos to the library yesterday, including images of a Girl Scout troop, a sorority group photo, and a picture of her husband getting sworn in as a Toledo Municipal Court judge in 1960. Her husband, Robert Franklin, was the fourth black Ohio judge.
"There is some history here, and it's nice to preserve it," Mrs. Franklin said.
The library plans to eventually post images of all its new photos in its Images of Time database at www.library.toledo.oh.us. Some of the photos might later be printed and posted at area libraries.
"We hope to do more photo exhibitions at the Art Tatum Center in the future," Ms. Christian said. "There are so many possibilities."
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