Vanishing Georgia Photographic Collection: The Discovery of Georgia's Historical Photographs and the Expansion of Public Access
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This thesis documents the Vanishing Georgia Photographic Collection through three distinct phases: the collection of images, the publication of a book based on the collection, and the digitization of the images for broader patron access. The first phase of the Vanishing Georgia Photographic Collection began in 1975 as a pilot program called the Vanishing Georgia Heritage Photography Project and developed into a nationally renowned preservation program. Field teams comprised of archivists, volunteers, a historian, and a photographer from the Georgia Department of Archives and History sought and collected historical photographs in counties throughout Georgia. The Vanishing Georgia Heritage Photography Project found remarkable photographs and also discovered incredible public support for photographs as historical documentation. Federal funds awarded by the National Endowment for the Humanities to the Georgia Department of Archives and History in 1978 and 1979 alleviated the financial strains of the revolutionary project, but the loss of federal funds in 1980 crippled the active collection of photographs. During the second phase, the Georgia Department of Archives and History published Vanishing Georgia in 1982. Publication of Georgia’s cultural images attracted appreciation and publicity for photographs as historical documentation. In 2002, the Georgia Department of Archives and History joined the Digital Library of Georgia and developed the third phase of the Vanishing Georgia Photographic Collection. By way of the World Wide Web, the duo enhanced the public’s access to the photographic collection. Each of the three Vanishing Georgia phases further encouraged preservation of photographs as historical documentation and access to a larger audience.