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New scanner will help Jackson County Historical Society make history accessible

wilborn collection.JPG
Posted at 6:19 AM, Oct 26, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-26 07:19:43-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A historic task is taking place inside the historic Independence Square Courthouse in uptown Independence, Missouri.

The Jackson County Historical Society, housed in the building, is scanning, preserving, processing and ultimately sharing the largest collection of historic photographs it's ever received.

To get the more than 300,000 photos online for the public to access, the organization has launched a fundraiser during October, American Archives Month, to buy a second scanner. The scanner will allow staff and volunteers to work twice as fast.

Former historical society executive director Steve Noll and his wife, Marianne purchased and donated the Wilborn Collection to the historical society in 2017.

The collection is a series of photographs from Wilborn & Associates Photographers. The photography studio, mostly operated by a father and son duo, is responsible for the collection of pictures ranging from 1919 to 2007.

Danielle Hall, the Jackson County Historical Society archivist and educational director, noted the collection includes photos of events, news, historical figures, places, and more.

“It’s the slice of Kansas City history,” she said. “it really does tell stories.”

Hall’s goal is to share those stories with the world, which is why the historical society wants to scan each photo and upload it to its website. The painstaking and tedious effort is being headed up mostly by volunteers with just one scanner, scanning one photo at a time.

“Over the next year or two, there will be an abundance of photos being uploaded for the public,” Hall promised.

To make good on that promise, Hall is asking the public to donate to the historical society’s fundraiser with a goal of $3,500 to buy that scanner. The fundraiser takes place via Facebook, or you can mail checks to the following address. Make them out to "JCHS" and write “scanner” in the memo: PO BOX 4241 Independence, MO 64051.