Thursday, February 3, 2011

Digital Image Project Underway

Joan Hostetler and her husband, John Harris, have been scanning vintage photographs featuring people and places from Pierceton and Sidney and Washington, Jackson and Monroe townships since June 2010 to create the body of work they’re calling the Whitko Community Digital Image Project.

I’ve always been interested in history, “ Hostetler said. “I worked at the Pierceton Library in junior high through high school. It gave me a strong interest in Pierceton history, stories and genealogy.”

More than 50 people have shared photographs with Hostetler and Harris while they’ve worked out of the Pierceton Library. Some of the images are available for viewing on the Internet on the Facebook site Memories of Pierceton and on Flickr Eventually, the Whitko Community photos can be accessed at Indiana Memory

“We’re looking for photographs, postcards, stereo views. maps, drawings, posters, flyers, brochures, advertising, objects made in the area,

manuscripts and old letters. Subjects of interest include street scenes, houses, farms, buildings, churches, businesses, school class or activity photographs, clubs and organizations.

“History is not just about “important” people,” Hostetler said. “We hope to document the everyday life of our small towns and rural communities from past to the present. Ordinary snapshots of a family or house will be fascinating in the future.”

The operation moves to South Whitley-Cleveland Township Library this summer where more than 3,000 photographs are archived. But that shouldn’t stop people from bringing in their images for scanning.

“We’re trying to get high resolution images. We’ll scan the originals and return them or they can be sent to us scanned, sized at 8-inches by 10 inches, at 600 dpi,” she said.

The main collection has come from Jack Phillips who gathered Pierceton-area photographs for many years. He has provided more than 800 images.

“Walter ‘Ducky’ Long was a professional photographer in Pierceton, a veteran of the Spanish American War, World Wars I and II and a rural route mailman. We have his negatives from 1900 through the 1930’s. It’s a real treasure trove.”

“My husband, John Harris, and I come to the community the third week of the month. What we’re scanning and cataloguing will end up in Indiana Memory - a data base at the Indiana State Library. We ask that if people want to share their photos, they make an appointment.”

The couple are available to make presentations and hope to visit alumni reunions.

Hostetler studied photography at the Herron School of Art and Design in Indianapolis. She worked for the Indiana Historical Society and was involved with its collection of 1.5 million photographs.

A job at the George Eastman House International Museum of Film and Photography in New York led to a master’s degree in imaging arts, specializing in photographic preservation and archives management.

Since 1998, she’s owned Heritage Photo Services offering individuals and groups her expertise on image storage and arrangement and the advantages of digital imaging.

The Kosciusko County Community Foundation approved a grant to purchase scanning equipment, a computer and a backup system housed at the Pierceton Library. A grant from the Whitley County Community Foundation will get the Cleveland and Richland phase of the program started this summer.

“There’s no hard and fast deadline,” Hostetler said. “We’ll keep taking photos as long as they come in.”

Hostetler can be contacted at Heritage Photo Services, 716 Dorman Street, Indianapolis, IN 46202 and by calling 317.639.2814 or 317.956.0203. The Web site is

Pierceton -Washington Township Library, P.O. Box 328, Pierceton, IN 46562, or by calling 574.594.5474.

South Whitley-Cleveland Township Public Library, 201 East Front Street, South Whitley, IN 46787 or by calling 723.5321. The SWPL Web site is

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