There's a treasure trove in the basement of the Asheville Citizen Times building. It's what Gene Hyde, Head of Special Collections at UNC Asheville's Ramsey Library, calls the "Holy Grail" of Asheville's archival history — thousands of photographs dating back to the paper's 1870s origins.
But for nearly a decade, the archive, often called the "photo morgue," in newspaper-speak, has languished. Banks of filing cabinets sat gathering dust, subject only to use by reporters and particularly persistent researchers.
That's about to change. The Citizen Times is donating its photo archives, dated 1870-2000, to UNCA's Ramsey Library, where it will become the university's newest and largest photo collection.
"Photographs really can do something to bring history alive that nothing else can," Hyde said. "And no institution is better suited to more thoroughly and comprehensively document what goes on in a community than a daily paper with photographers. That’s what you do, every single day."
For the first time, the paper's archives will become a public resource. The collection will be organized per archival standards, honoring "original order," Hyde said, put in a temperature controlled space in the university archives, with a guide created to navigate the collection. Eventually, it will be digitized.
It's the "unprecedented, comprehensive, photographic history" of Asheville, Hyde said. Daily newspapers keep the record of their regions. As the collection tells the sprawling history of the Citizen Times, so too it tells a story of the city.
“The broad community implications of what the archive means is so historically important," said Paul Bonesteel, a local documentary filmmaker.
You can read more in an article by Sarah Honosky published in the citizen-times.com web site at: http://tinyurl.com/mr72t5kx