In March, 2009, Wasco County Pioneer Association and the Wasco County Historical Museum entered into a partnership to work together on the long term care and preservation of the Pioneer Association photograph collection. This incredible collection, compiled over more than 90 years and comprised of over 9,000 images, represents the most extensive community photo collection anywhere in Oregon, according to MaryAnn Campbell of the Oregon Historical Society.
The photographs and associated memorabilia are grouped on display boards by theme. They document pioneer families from the 1880s through the twentieth century, as well as businesses, architecture, railroads, and daily life. It is an invaluable community resource.
The entire collection has been glued to masonite and plywood boards by well-meaning Pioneer Association members who wanted to make them easily available for display. Today, it is recognized that adhesives should not be used on photographic prints and that the best way to store the images and make them available in perpetuity is to digitize them.
Over the years, the boards have been stored in various locations around the community. They even spent a number of years in the basement of an old house owned by Wasco County. The Wasco County Historical Museum now provides climate controlled, secure storage for the collection and has obtained high resolution scans of all of the images to ensure their long term preservation.
Through agreement, the Wasco County Pioneer Association still owns the collection.
Funding for this project was provided by grants from Oregon Heritage Commission and the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA). The grants were awarded in 2009 and the project was completed in 2011.
This was a pilot project to test the scanning process and the viability of OSU hosting the images for public access. The success of this project has let to many more similar projects around the state.
The Pioneer Association continues to display many of the boards during their annual meeting in May. They also bring several of the boards to the downtown area for display in store fronts during Fort Dalles Rodeo.
To view this collection online go to http://oregondigital.org/digcol/cgdc
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