Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Hailey aims to preserve Mallory Collection

Historic photographs to be digitized and shared with the public

Express Staff Writer

"Tail-dragger" aircraft gather at the dedication ceremony for Friedman Memorial Airport in Hailey in 1931. (Photo courtesy of the Hailey Public Library- Mallory Collection)

A priceless collection of historic photographs from the turn of the 20th century, stored at the Hailey Public Library for the past 12 years, may soon be digitized and made available through the Internet.

Photographs in the Mallory collection, about 3,000 prints and perhaps 1,500 original cellulose-nitrate and glass negatives, were taken by Martyn Mallory between 1890 and 1936.

"I am happy to see this is happening," said Rose Mallory, the daughter-in-law of Martyn Mallory. "I would like to see the photographs made available to the public."

To bring that about, the Hailey Historic Preservation Commission is applying for an Idaho State Historical Records Advisory Board grant to hire a consultant to assess the status of the collection.

"A huge amount of work has been done by the library in terms of cataloguing the collection," said commission Chairman Rob Lonning. "We are hoping to take up where the library left off."

Lonning recently attended an intensive, two-day workshop in Bellevue, Wash., offered by the Society of American Archivists, on the identification of historic photographic processes.

"The celluloid negatives in the Mallory collection tend to disintegrate and can become flammable," Lonning said.

Martyn Ellsworth Mallory was born in 1880 in Kelton, Utah. His family moved to Hailey when he was 3 years old and established a merchandise store on Main Street. When only 9, he photographed the burning of gambling tables on Main Street by the Women's Temperance League, beginning a life-long hobby that would lead, 40 years later, to a job documenting the building of the Sun Valley Lodge in the 1930s for Union Pacific Railroad.

Mallory worked as a Sawtooth Forest ranger, businessman and county assessor. His photographs captured both the natural landscape as well as many of the cultural and social aspects of life in and around the Wood River Valley.

One series of Mallory images shows a snake hanging from a tree fishing trout from a creek. Others depict early automobiles on a dusty Main Street in Hailey. A picture of Ketchum taken from a hilltop at the turn of the 20th century has no automobiles at all.

A few of the prints from the collection are available for viewing at the Hailey Public Library upon request. Proceeds from sales of copies of the images go to benefit the library and the Mallory family.

Rick Ardinger, executive director of the Idaho Council on the Humanities, said the Mallory collection was "quite a find" in terms of its historical significance for central Idaho. The council provided a series of grants to preserve and catalogue the collection during the 1990s after Bill and Rose Mallory donated it to the Hailey Public Library.

"Mallory got out quite a bit," Ardinger said.

Archeologist and archivist Claudia Walsworth spent four years as director of the project. She said Mallory's photographs captured the ranching and mining activities of the era, as well as many historic buildings that no longer exist.

"He also photographed many of the people and events of his day, like bands and parades on Main Street," Walsworth said. "This collection is an important part of the social and economic history of the time."

Rose Mallory and her husband, Bill Mallory, the eldest son of Martyn Mallory, recorded interviews with Hailey old-timers during the 1990s, including the late Rupert House and members of the Board family, to identify many of the people and places captured by Martyn Mallory during his career. Those recordings are stored in Hailey City Hall, above the library on Main Street.

The Hailey Historical Preservation Commission was formed in 2004 to "promote the historic, architectural, archaeological and cultural heritage of Hailey." Since that time the commission has completed two surveys of historic properties in Hailey and established a walking tour to the city's many buildings of historic significance.

For more information on the Mallory collection or to view a sample of the photographs, contact Nancy Gurney at the Hailey Library at 788-2036

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