If you're a student of history (like me), if you're a fan of all things Lexington and Kentucky (like me), welcome to something truly special. Today, the Herald-Leader and Kentucky.com are excited to officially unveil the Kentucky Photo Archive.
One of the Herald- Leader's greatest treasures is its vast collection of news, feature and sports photographs that show the history of Lexington and Kentucky dating to the 1930s. Today we will begin sharing that treasure trove with you — at KyPhotoArchive.com, on social media and in print.
The cornerstone of this effort is the John C. Wyatt Herald-Leader Collection, an archive of 1.8 million negatives and transparencies dating from the late 1930s through the 1990s housed at the University of Kentucky Special Collections since 2005. (See accompanying article by photo director Ron Garrison about the archive and Wyatt, former longtime chief photographer of the Herald-Leader).
Add to the mix thousands of memorable images by the Herald-Leader's amazing photo staff from 1990 to the present, and you have a vault of news images showing nearly a century of Lexington and Kentucky history.
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The photos running with this column and already on KyPhotoArchive.com are stunning bits of history frozen in time: Main Street traffic in 1951; Lexington's original peanut butter plant in 1946; UK's final men's basketball game at Memorial Coliseum in 1976 (until an NIT game in 2009); the corner of Nicholasville Road and Rose Street in 1946, when the background was all grassy fields and trees.
Those images provide only a tiny sampling of the historical moments we plan to share in the days, weeks and months to come.
As is only fitting in this digital age, we'll be using lots of tools to bring these historic images back to life for modern readers:
■ We'll be posting multiple new (old) photos to KyPhotoArchive.com every day. I invite you to bookmark the site and check back daily for fresh images. Click any photo to see it full-screen. You'll also find a button to order a print of any image you see posted to the archive site.
■ See more photos, find out when new ones have been posted and share them with friends on Twitter by following @KyPhotoArchive.
■ And each week, on Monday, we'll feature a sampling of photos from the Kentucky Photo Archive in print, on the Herald-Leader's Bluegrass page (A3).
I hope you enjoy this ongoing look at the history of Lexington and Central Kentucky through the lenses of decades of talented Herald-Leader photographers. Please take a look around the archive, check back often, and be sure to let us know what you think.