If you have information about photos in the Hall County Library’s collections, or have photos to submit, call Ronda Sanders at 770-532-3311, ext. 116 or e-mail email@example.com. You must own the copyright to any images you wish to submit.
Hundreds of historic photographs documenting the history of Hall County are now just a click away.
Thanks to the University of Georgia’s Digital Library of Georgia, a searchable database of some 1,000 images that show special occasions and everyday life in Hall County is available online.
Putting the photo collections online was a way not only to make them more available, but also to preserve the historic images, said Ronda Sanders, the genealogy and local history librarian for the Hall County Library System.
"We were finding that, whether it be high school students or college students or people writing books, they need images to go with the books or papers they were writing," Sanders said. "It was causing a lot of wear and tear on our negatives."
Queries come from people as close as the local school system and as far as the upper Midwest, Sanders said.
In 2008, Hall County Library System Director Adrian Mixson pushed for a way to make it easier for people to access those photos and last month, the database went online through GALILEO.
Two collections — the Black History Society Photograph Collection and the Hall County Georgia Historical Photograph Collection — make up a large part of that database.
The Black History Society Collection came together through the hard work of two women who spurred community members to contribute to a pictorial history of African-Americans in Hall County, Sanders said. "Hall County, Georgia" by Linda Rucker Hutchens and Ella J. Wilmont Smith is part of Arcadia’s Black American Series. The images featured online are from that book.
"It was very much people just got together and found out what grandma had taken pictures of and saved and school photographs" and a variety of other photos, Sanders said.
The second group of photographs, The Hall County Georgia Historical Photograph Collection, is made up of digitized photographs of Hall County residents, buildings and events from the late 19th century to modern day.
The digitized versions of both collections were almost lost, however. Several years ago, the library system used a federal grant from the Library Services and Technology Act to put the images online the first time, Sanders said. However, the server housing those images died and the old software made the backups inaccessible, she said.
But UGA stepped in and was able to save most of the images, which now reside on one of their servers through the Digital Library of Georgia.
"We feel very confident they will be around for a long, long time, and we won’t have that problem again," Sanders said.
More images also will be added to the Hall County Georgia Historical Photograph Collection, many from the collection of longtime Hall County genealogist Sybil McRay, she said. A new collection is also in the works, Sanders said.
Library staff are working with the Spanish-language newspaper Mexico Lindo to compile some of that publication’s images of the local Hispanic community. The group had an initial meeting to get started on the project, but even officials at UGA are excited, Sanders said.
"It is very much in the planning stage, but we are very much excited about it," she said, explaining that the newspaper has a bevy of images to contribute.