Sunday, February 25, 2024 Feb 25, 2024
59° F Dallas, TX
Advertisement
Dallas History

A Cache of Abandoned Photos Opens a Window to Texas History

An office renovation in Corsicana recently uncovered an unintended time capsule.
By | |Courtesy Corsicana Residency
View Gallery
Image
When Corsicana residents failed to claim photos half a century ago, City Office Supply kept them for safekeeping. The 2,500 images, which were only recently discovered, form the basis of a new exhibit at the Corsicana Artist & Writer Residency. Corsicana Residency
Advertisement

A Cache of Abandoned Photos Opens a Window to Texas History

{{ oneIndex }} / {{ images.length }}

Advertisement

Four years ago, workers were clearing debris from an old office building in Corsicana, preparing for a renovation, when they discovered a time capsule: 400 envelopes of film and photographs, all taken more than 50 years ago. Of course, the workers weren’t looking for a time capsule, and they almost dumped the entire cache of about 2,500 photographs into the trash. 

The building’s contents were once the property of the now-defunct City Office Supply, which sent off customers’ film to a processing lab. When those customers failed to retrieve their photo orders, City Office Supply dutifully stored them for safekeeping. The company did this from 1948 to 1966, amassing four cabinets of abandoned images. 

The two decades of photos—which form the upcoming exhibition “DUST,” hosted by the Corsicana Artist & Writer Residency—show the candid, everyday life of the town of Corsicana and Navarro County. There are images of parades, high school dances, and road trips. 

“It’s an accidental archive of the county,” says Allison V. Smith, a well-known Dallas-based photographer. She co-curated the exhibition, along with Michael Thomas, the editor and publisher of 1814 Magazine, a biannual art and design publication. Thomas adds, “Postwar, baby boom, social movements, women’s rights—all these themes are depicted in these photos.”

The photographs now belong to a nonprofit created this year by Smith, Thomas, and the photographer and educator Henry Horenstein. Their Full Frame Foundation intends to further preservation of historical photography. “DUST” will be the foundation’s first exhibition and the first time these images will be on view to the general public. An hour’s drive south of Dallas will offer a rare glimpse of local history—all of it found by accident. 

Related Articles

Image
Media

D Magazine’s 50 Greatest Stories: How the Starck Club Fell

It's easy to find stories that wax nostalgic about the legendary Starck Club. It's more difficult to find a chronicling of its finale.
Image
Dallas History

D Magazine’s 50 Greatest Stories: The Murders That Changed Fort Worth

The tragedy of how Cullen and Priscilla Davis put Fort Worth on the map.
Image
Dallas History

At the Reborn Longhorn Ballroom, Bob Wills Is Still the King

For one night, at least. The venue that began with the king of Western swing's name on the marquee is welcoming back his Texas Playboys, for the first time in decades.
By Bill Sanderson
Advertisement