The original Elmer W. Hunt Photograph Collections contained over 53,000+ negatives for photos taken by long-time University and community photographer, the late Elmer William Hunt, a local photographer who graduated from the University in 1953 when it was Pembroke State College and who served as the University’s photographer from 1953 to1973. The collection contains thousands of photographs of University activities. There are also many photographs that were taken in the local schools and throughout the community, including at parades, weddings, and funerals.
The dates of the photographs range from the late 1940s to the 1980s, and subject areas include family reunions, birthday parties, VFW activities, Lumbee Regional Development Association (LRDA) events, the outdoor drama, Strike at the Wind!, and numerous other public and private occasions.
In 2002, Elmer Hunt’s son, Elmer W. Hunt, Jr. (Bill), donated his father’s negatives to the American Indian Studies Department (AIS) of The University of North Carolina at Pembroke, Pembroke, North Carolina. Dr. Linda Oxendine, Chair of AIS from 1989 – 2006, took charge of preserving and developing the collection. Some of her students and interns began the process of scanning the negatives and storing them on CDs.
In spring 2005, with her retirement impending, Dr. Oxendine transferred the collection to the Mary Livermore Library for continued development and preservation. Library staff members Lillian Brewington and Carlene Cummings spent a year sorting and categorizing the negatives. They were then sent to the National Archive Publishing Company (NAPC) to be scanned, digitized, and saved to external computer hard drives.
In 2010, the Library began a project to add many of these historical images to an online archival database, CONTENTdm, where the digital images would be available for public viewing via the Internet. The Library asked the local community for assistance with collecting data on the images. In June 2010, some of the photographs were exhibited during the week of Lumbee Homecoming. A display of several notebooks filled with the historic photos was prepared inside and outside the Library so that participants in the Homecoming could add any information they knew about individual photos. Community members were also asked to add their names to a list of volunteers who would be willing to work with library staff members to continue to get as much information on the historical photographs as possible. Several volunteers came in and spent hours going through the photos and adding identification information.
The Library also held a series of identification events in 2010-2011 and 2011-2012, when members of the community were able to come and view the photos, identify individuals, and perhaps tell some stories about Mr. Hunt and the unique Lumbee history that he had captured for posterity through his photographs. This series of viewing/identification events featured presentations that were centered around the broad subject areas of the photos, such as the University, the town of Pembroke, local churches, etc.
In 2011, a grant-funded, staff person was hired to upload a portion of the images to CONTENTdm. This temporary position and the digitization activities were supported by grant funds from Institute of Museum and Library Services under the provisions of the federal Library Services and Technology Act as administered by the State Library of North Carolina, a division of the Department of Cultural Resources. The images selected for the project were from the following series of the photographs: Carolina Indian Voice, LRDA, Strike at the Wind!, the Town of Pembroke, and the University of North Carolina at Pembroke. All of the data that had been collected on the photos in the identification series, via the photograph-identification notebooks and discussion events, was used to create a record for each photograph. Approximately 15,000 of the Elmer Hunt photos were made available to the public, via CONTENTdm, in July 2012.
Some of the individuals/events in the various photos have not yet been identified, so viewers are able to add additional information about the photos through the CONTENTdm software. The Library is planning to continue to add photos to the online database, but it will be sometime before all 53,000+ photos can be added. In the meantime, everyone is asked to continue to visit the Library, view the printed photos on display, and add any information they might know about the photos.