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Black History Hidden in Plain Sight

Since acquiring the photo collection of the Florida Times-Union, we have spent considerable time working with its rich and diverse materials. Whether it’s a national media outlet in need of a photo of a young Hank Aaron, or preparations for our recent Speaker Series program at Edward Waters College, we enjoy any opportunity to go digging through the seemingly endless drawers of rescued photo negatives. You never know what you’ll discover. Many of them are in advanced stages of deterioration, and there’s often no time to lose when scanning a preservation copy.

Left, damaged negative of Hank Aaron with the Jacksonville Braves in 1953; right, preservation copy restored from the negative.

These crumbling negatives are like faded, distant memories. A reminder of how fragile history can be. That’s why it’s so gratifying to see these subjects spring back to life in front of our eyes. Each snapshot is a moment frozen in time, a story captured in the blink of an eye. The triumphs and the struggles of ordinary people who’ve walked these streets for nearly two centuries.

Top left, drawer of negatives from Edwards Water College in the archives at JHS. Middle left, an image scanned from one of the negatives, 1952. Bottom left, EWC students at the library in 1950. Right, unidentified EWC student at Freshman Orientation in 1950.

The Jacksonville Historical Society endeavors to tell every story, because we recognize that every story has value. Our mission is to educate and inspire, but we also believe that our work can foster a stronger sense of community. Because the more we see each other, the more we understand each other. Thanks to our preservation efforts, the people and places within these images will not be forgotten.

Mitch Hemann
Senior Archivist

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