Since debuting in the Chattanooga Times Free Press early in 2020, the "Remember When, Chattanooga?" weekly photo feature has cultivated a loyal following.
More than 2,000 people have joined a Facebook group displaying items from the series, which draws images from ChattanoogaHistory.com, a website dedicated to preserving the visual record of the Scenic City.
"My goal is to have access to unique photos from our area and preserve them through digitization or donation," Hall explained.
"I want to do more than just share a collection of photos. Anyone can do that," he said. "I'm utilizing facial recognition [software] to confirm identities and adding features to the website to assist others with their own research such as maps and search features."
Included in the loaned images from newspaper readers are the work of former Chattanooga Times photographer George Baker, historic photos of the Second Missionary Baptist Church, and images of Bridgeport, Alabama, circa 1920.
The following is a Q&A exchange with Hall:
Q. How have readers interacted with you about the "Remember When, Chattanooga?" series?
A. What has impressed me the most is the willingness to share photos, and the back stories from them.
Unique views into the past often provide glimpses into the events, people, and ways of life that have been lost in our collective memories.
Q. What are some of the common reactions to ChattanoogaHistory.com photos?
Many photos elicit a flood of great memories of days gone by. On more than one occasion, someone has recognized and identified individuals or groups. That information is invaluable.
Q. What is the best way to submit photos for archiving at the ChattanoogaHistory.com website?
It's best to contact me (contact page on website) about what types of photos you have first to determine what's best. I've had photos shared to me via mail, and I've met with individuals to pick up photos and negatives. There are options to send higher resolution files to me online as well.
It's important to note I will not utilize photos to leverage donations, nor do I require donors to sign away their rights to use and share photos. This is purely a volunteer effort devoted to preserving and sharing.
Launched by history enthusiast Sam Hall in 2014, ChattanoogaHistory.com is maintained to present historical images in the highest resolution available.
If you have photo negatives, glass plate negatives, or original non‐digital prints taken in the Chattanooga area, contact Sam Hall for information on how they may qualify to be digitized and preserved at no charge.
Q. While you probably have interest in all periods, are there time frames that are underrepresented on the site that you would like to cultivate?
The biggest opportunity now is with the 1970s through the early 1990s, as the generation that took the photos still likely has them stored away and forgotten. This time period also represents the last decades of exclusive film use. While prints were often less than ideal – if negatives remain, they can produce some amazing unseen details.
However, great photos from the 1940s and 1950s continue to be uncovered.
Q. If people want to use their down time this winter to look for vintage photos, what exactly are you looking for? Are people photos OK? Are you looking for historical reference points in the photos?
Any photos of places or people working, playing, living in our area – such as a view of people shopping downtown, or eating at a diner. These otherwise mundane views may be great candidates for preservation.
* 35 millimeter slides and negatives are best (often found mixed in with photos in a shoe box).
* No individual or family portraits please.
* No photos from newspapers or books as they are very low resolution and lack detail.
Q. What do you consider the mission of ChattanoogaHistory.com?
* To share the history of Chattanooga visually through images and interactive resources.
* To locate and digitize unique photos and other content from donors and found acquisitions.
* To research and (re)discover facts about the locations and people in the photos that have been forgotten.
Contact Mark Kennedy at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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