The White River Valley Historical Society serves as a repository for many collections of objects, books, and archival items, including images ranging from tintypes and cabinet cards to Polaroid pictures and scans of images lent by their owners. While some collections are detailed as to the subject matter, others remain a mystery to date.

“Most of us have pictures in our family that were never identified, and now that grandparents and other family members are gone, we may never be able to identify them. We have the same situation here at the WRVHS, only on a much, much larger scale,” explained Managing Director Leslie Wyman. “Not only are there ‘mystery pictures’ from the area, but we also have quite a few from other parts of the country. In some cases, the original owners moved here late in life, and we inherited their collections. In other cases, many of the thrift stores in Taney County very generously donate any pictures that they receive, and of course, we have no idea where they might have originated other than the occasional photography studio information.”

“It’s critical that we make every effort now to try to gather as much information about the pictures as we can while memories, and eyesight, are still strong with our older generations. Since these tend to be personal collections, many times the same person is featured in several pictures, thus one identification can lead to a dozen pictures being identified! We’re also comparing the photos from our school yearbook collection to the pictures, and checking various online sources.  In addition, we’ve learned to compare collections from similar regions to see if they have the same individuals, or buildings, pictured—for example, the Sibyl Parrish and Martha Davis Barber collections both feature many pictures from the old Forsyth area, whereas some of our other collections include images specifically from the Branson area.”

“We encourage everyone who might be able to assist with this project to contact us and see if there’s a collection or two they can take a look at, and hopefully identify a few people or locations,” Wyman continued. Call 417-546-2210 for to schedule time with a Society representative, or email info@wrvhs.org.