By Nancy Covert
If a picture is worth a thousand words; what are 4,000+ photos worth? To catalog the 4,240 images in the Steilacoom Historical Museum Association Collection has taken “about three years.” Definitely priceless.
Not 24/7, or exactly 365 days’ worth of work, however. It was more like 2,000 hours, says Buzz Brake. Just in short increments, explains Brake, whose business card proclaims, among other things, that he’s a Wagon Shop Docent as well as Photo Archivist for the 40-year old organization.
Besides photos of early Steilacoom history (1890-1960) there are private collections of a historical nature, such as those from the Bair Family (including photos developed from glass negatives and tintypes). There’s also photos from pioneer Laura Belle Downey’s extensive collection.
The archives include photos of people, railroads, boats, bridges, the town’s 1954 centennial, plus many other categories and collections, and there also are photos of documents.
Brake’s volunteer work with the collection evolved because he “just wanted to explore the museum’s archives.” Scanning those thousands of photos was how he “earned access” to its records.
While reprints of any Steilacoom School/Pioneer Middle School photos (up to 1960) are complimentary, there is a fee for all other photos. The Museum charges $5 for a digital file, while prices vary for printed photos, depending on size.
Historic photos from the archives are showcased in the association’s 2011 calendar. Calendars at $12 ea (or $10 for two or more) are available at Steilacoom Marine Services, Bair Drug Store, Key Bank, Community First Credit Union, and Espresso by the Bay.
In the meantime, “visit the website, explore the photos and see what’s there,” encourages Brake.
All images are available on line at the SHMA photo webpage www.steilacoomhistoricalphotos.com.
“Recommendations for ways to improve the site are welcome” he adds.