The Guilford Keeping Society Photo Archive
History of the GKS Collection of Photography
The extensive print and negative collection maintained by the GKS Library Committee has its origin during the formative years of the Society and has been a work in progress for 75 years.
One of the Society’s founders, Dorothy Byrd Davis (Mrs. P. Lloyd Davis) chaired the Library Committee and first established the collection of negatives for the Guilford Keeping Society in a 2-drawer file cabinet.
She gained the friendship of historian and artist Charles D. Hubbard, whose studio was in the attic of Hubbard’s home at 37 Park Street, Guilford. Shortly before Hubbard’s death in 1951, Hubbard gifted many of his paintings and sketches—including photographs and negatives—to the newly formed Guilford Keeping Society via Mrs. Davis. Her poignant article about “The Closing of Hobgoblin Hall” in Milestones of Old Guilford describes how Mr. Hubbard gifted these personal belongings to the Society. This was the first major acquisition of the Society’s library.
In 1971-1972, Mrs. Davis, David D. Dudley and Joel E. Helander rescued hundreds of glass plate negatives, which had been donated by Charles D. Hubbard, from the hot attic of the Thomas Griswold House museum. The negatives were placed in safer storage on the second floor of the Griswold House.
In 1975, Shelton W. Dudley, Sr. of 45 Boston Street identified and catalogued many of the Hubbard negatives for the Society.
Down through the years, other groups of negatives and prints relating to Guilford have been donated to the GKS Library Committee. In particular, the unprecedented gift of over 4,000 negatives made by Mrs. Shelton W. Dudley, Sr. in 1992.
In 1992, Deborah Peluse, Al Weber, Millie Weber, and Joe Helander started taking an inventory of the negative collection. This was the first step in planning for their proper cataloging on a computer data base. The inventory numbers were staggering: over 4,000 individual negatives would require archival storage protection and data entry. Most of the glass plate sizes measure 4x5”, 5x7” and 8x10”. The G.K.S. Board of Directors authorized $1,500 in funds for archival cataloging supplies i.e. envelopes and storage boxes.
On a weekly basis for over seven years, from 1995 to 2002, Deborah Peluse and Joel Helander of the G.K.S. Library Committee painstakingly accomplished the data entry of thousands of negatives, which had to be re-cleaned, re-sorted, more fully identified, catalogued, and stored. Alan Haesche established the computer data base using the “File Maker Pro-8” software. Others who assisted at weekly work sessions from time to time included: Natalie Heinemann, Sandra Rux, Nancy Brown, and Amy Earls. Peluse and Helander spent another seven years refining the data base for ease of search, with particular attention to the creation of exact street addresses, wherever applicable.