Paducah photographer James Curtis’ photos added to digital collection

PADUCAH — The collection of a famous community photographer, James Curtis, was released after his passing in 2012.

The Curtis building was donated to Broadway United Methodist Church. Thousands of photos taken over the course of 50 years were discovered in the building several years ago. The photos were moved to the church for volunteers to sort through and organize.

Janet Haynes watched hundreds of people experience that with pictures from Curtis’ collection.

“The joy that we saw from people coming in,” Haynes said. The photos brought an array of emotions. “One lady came in and said ‘Oh, that’s my son. He passed away in a car accident a year ago. I want this picture,'” Haynes recalled.

Haynes is one of many volunteers with Broadway United Methodist Church who coordinated the effort to organize the file cabinets filled with pictures.

“It was a gold mine that we found,” Haynes said.

After the public dug through them, the rest were digitized by the McCracken County Public Library. Nathan Lynn has been working for years to scan each picture.

“We have to create all of these different subject headings,” Lynn said. “So, when people go to something like Google and search ‘Alben Barkley Paducah funeral,’ hopefully in the future it will show up.”

From bowling lanes, to high school dances, the photos can take you back in time.

“It was just unbelievable, the variety of photos we found in this collection.” Haynes said.

The collection on the McCracken County Public Library website can be viewed here.

If you are interested in a photo, you can contact West Kentucky Genealogy.

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