Community asked to help save historical photos
SIKESTON -- The fate of photos ranging from former presidential visits in Missouri by Harry Truman and Ronald Reagan to floods and train wrecks are in the hands of the community and the Sikeston Depot.
Without help from area residents, the historical photograph collection may vanish into thin air -- literally.
"These photos must be preserved," Judy Bowman of the Sikeston Depot said. "These are some of the most unbelievable photos."
The Sikeston Depot received a $5,000-grant from the Missouri Historical Records Grant Program in June to aid in the funding of the preservation of the Loy Baugher Photograph Collection.
Baugher's collection includes approximately 250,000 photographs. The grant will cover about 20,000 photos and negatives (80 boxes) taken over a time span from the mid-1940s to the late 1970s. Some of the photographs are also copies of the late 1800s and early 1900s photos.
When moving to Sikeston in the mid-1940s, Baugher worked for and then bought the Dysart photographic studio. Some of the news items Baugher used the Dysart trademark to cover include new farm machinery and crops, mass medical inoculations during the 1950s polio epidemic, aerial views of town growth, the construction of Interstates 55 and 57 and many other subjects.
The Sikeston Depot is encouraging the public to volunteer and help preserve Missouri history, Bowman said.
"The public needs to remember that this is a part of history," Bowman said. "These pictures aren't just of Sikeston, they're of the whole community with places like Charleston, New Madrid, East Prairie and many others."
A local collector Don Miller, bought the lifetime photographic work of Baugher. Miller died several years ago and his family, the Don Miller estate, donated the historical collection to the Sikeston Depot Historical Museum.
The purpose of the project is to preserve the Don Miller collection of Dysart-Baugher pictures and to make the collection accessible to the community, the schools, the area and to visiting tourists. When fisnished, the photographs will be on display at the Depot's museum. Bowman said the project is also for extending, in visual form, the telling of the Missouri Bootheel story.
Volunteers will be needed for placing photos in acid-free protective sleeves, identifying events and people and working with computers, Bowman said. Right now, though, volunteers are needed for manual help, she said. Bowman asked that every service club with pictures in the collection donate at least one meeting to help sleeve the historical photos.
Bowman said it will be a year before the photos are cataloged and available for public viewing.
"Don Miller's wife and children realized these photos were historical," Bowman said. "That's why they're here (at the depot), and that's why we need to keep them a part of Missouri history."
Anyone interested in volunteering for the project should call the Sikeston Depot at (573) 481-9967.