An exhibit titled “Through the Lens of Carl Brown: Lowndes County in the 1940s-1950s” will be on display at the Columbus-Lowndes Public Library from April 9-27. An opening reception will be held Monday, April 9 at 5 p.m.
The exhibit represents the culmination of a year-long project undertaken by the library’s Local History Department (LHD) to process, digitize and exhibit the early work of local professional photographer Carl Eugene Brown (1918-1998).
Brown, born in Bentonia in 1918, moved to Columbus in 1929. It was during his service in World War II that he developed his interest and skills in photography. After the war, he opened a local studio and for four decades was one of the preeminent photographers in the Lowndes County area.
Brown captured images of families, rites of passage, products for sale, the opening of new businesses, community celebrations, school memories, childhood milestones, holidays and much more. His work showcases the lives and history of a Mississippi city from the mid- to late 20th century.
The opening reception will feature David Wharton from the University of Mississippi who will present “Photographing Community: Carl Brown Looks at Lowndes County, 1940s-1950s.” Wharton is the author of two books, “Small Town South” (2012) and “The Soul of a Small Texas Town: Photographs, Memories, and History from McDade” (2000). He specializes in documentary photography, local history and small town culture.
The Brown collection was donated to the LHD in 2016 by Sam Laffoon, owner of The Grapevine, where the collection was housed for over five years. Laffoon donated the collection in memory of his late wife, Kittie C. Laffoon.
Since then, staff of the LHD, along with dedicated volunteers including Clyde Hollis, Gary Lancaster and Lucy Stafford, have processed the first two decades of the collection. That entailed rehousing, relabeling, assessing and identifying over 5,980 negatives.
Once the processing was complete, over 1,570 negatives were digitized for inclusion on the Mississippi Digital Library (MDL). Images chosen for digitization are considered within the public sphere. For example, state fairs, parades, camps, buildings, houses, businesses and more. The digitized images will go live on Wednesday, April 11. To view the archives collections on the MDL visit msdiglib.org/about/partners/columbus.
The LHD welcomes donations so that it can continue its work on the Carl Brown Photograph Collection in order to complete the remaining three decades. Checks should be made out to the Columbus-Lowndes Public Library System.
To find out more about Carl Brown and his photographs, visit carlbrownphotos40s50s.wordpress.com.
This project was made possible through a grant from the Mississippi Humanities Council along with assistance from the Friends of the Columbus-Lowndes Public Library, the Stephen D. Lee High School Foundation, and local donations.
For more information call 662-329-5304 or email email@example.com.
The library is located at 314 Seventh St. N.
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