The Brooks Memorial Library, in conjunction with the University of Vermont’s Center for Digital Initatives and with funding from the Windham Foundation, is undergoing a project to scan and catalog the almost 1,300 photographic images made by local photographer Porter Thayer.

Porter Thayer was a photographer, born in Williamsville, Vermont,  who took photographs around Windham County from 1903 – 1930. Thayer used a 5×7 and a 6.5 x 8.5 view camera and  glass plate negatives to create his images. The detail available in his large format images creates an extraordinary glimpse into early 20th century life in Southeastern Vermont.

Currently, Porter Thayer’s images are only available to the public on microfilm, which maintains little of the beauty and detail of the original images. The vision and detail of Thayer’s work will be better preserved through digitization, as well as allowing these images to be more accessible to the local public, scholars of Vermont history and of early 20th century photography online free of charge.

The photographs are being scanned and cataloged by Jess Weitz, staff member at the Brooks Memorial Library, in batches of 50 images. The first set of images will be available online by the first week in December 2010. The database of images can be accessed through the Center for Digital Initatives site at http://cdi.uvm.edu/

The project staff hopes to gain feedback from individuals and local historical societies about their knowledge of the people and places in the images.. On each images page, there will be a place to submit comments and have your knowledge added to the image’s historic record.

Please join us for an afternoon talk about “The History of the Town Photographer”by local photographer Forrest Holzapfel, sponsored by the Vermont Humanities Council, and a discussion of the Porter Thayer project to date, on January 15th at  3:00 PM in the Library’s meeting room.

For more information about the project, please contact Jess Weitz at jessica@brooks.lib.vt.us or Robin Katz (of the CDI) at robin.katz@uvm.edu .

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