Photographs of Historic 25th Street tell stories of Ogden’s past, and the Stewart Library is out to capture that story. With the help of the history department, a grant from the Hemingway Foundation and the visual arts and sociology departments, the library is currently seeking post-World War II photographs of Ogden, but, more specifically, of 25th Street.
On Saturday inside the historic Ben Lomond Hotel in downtown Ogden, the library kicked off the project with a daylong event. Community members were encouraged to bring in their collections of old photographs to have them scanned on site. Library staff also provided preservation tips to help keep these old pictures in good condition.
The mission of archiving Ogden’s photo history began two years ago when the Stewart Library started its 40th-anniversary collections project. According to Sarah Langsdon, the associate curator of Special Collections at the Stewart Library, the community members had a huge reaction to the project and started to contribute their old photographs.
“I think it really captures the history of Ogden,” Langsdon said. “And for us, Ogden hasn’t really been documented since the ’70s.”
The library will host another event in August to collect more photographs, because the farmers market will draw more people downtown. A book about 25th Street will be published in the fall of 2013, so Langsdon said the timing couldn’t have been better to launch the project. Langsdon also said capturing photographs of 25th Street today is important.
“With smartphones and digital cameras, I think capturing the history of the town you live in is really easy,” Langsdon said. “I don’t have time to go out and shoot everything to add to our collection . . . any time you have a camera and you see something, just shoot it. You never know in 50 years what you captured and what somebody might be interested in.”
The library is expanding from just photographs for this yearlong project, and enlisted the help of history students to collect oral histories of people who grew up or worked on 25th Street. Langsdon said the history of Hispanic businesses will also be documented.
“I think we got over 100 (photographs) today, just so far,” Langsdon said. “. . . We’ve got some amazing shots of buildings we haven’t seen before, and events. We just got one of Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig when they were here in Ogden.”
Langsdon said the Weber County Assessors took photographs of structures in Ogden during the 1930s, ’40s and ’70s for tax purposes, and this helped start the project.
“We have these amazing shots of 200 25th Street when it was the Beehive Confectionery, and now it’s Lucky Slice,” Langsdon said. “So what we are doing with the photo students is they are going to re-photograph them; they are going to take the same angles and shoot what is there now.”
These then-and-now photographs will be featured at the unveiling of the collection at the Union Station in April of 2014 during the First Friday Art Stroll.
Kathy Payne, head of reference and information services at Stewart Library, said the Stewart Library collections serve more than historical purposes.
“A lot of students use them for senior thesis, and I know there have been a number of undergraduate research grants that make use of the library’s collections, both the special collections and the archives,” Payne said.
Erica Wood, collections processor at the Stewart Library, scanned in photographs that community members brought into the hotel on Saturday. Each photograph has to be scanned individually.