Local historian Samuel W. Thomas donates papers to Photographic Archives
Samuel W. Thomas, well-known for his illustrated and documented histories of Louisville and its neighborhoods, drew heavily upon the University of Louisville Photographic Archives for his source material.
Now he is giving his collection of some 200 linear feet of photographs and research files, amassed over 50 years, to the Photographic Archives.
“My first book, ‘Views of Louisville since 1766,’ published in 1971, was based mainly upon material in the R.G. Potter Collection housed in the Photographic Archives,” Thomas said. “The Photographic Archives have been a starting point for my research ever since.”
Thomas received his bachelor’s and doctoral degrees in chemistry from UofL in 1960 and 1964, respectively, but turned from chemistry to history. He was the first director and for many years resident curator of Locust Grove and also was the first Jefferson County archivist and historian. He has written more than 20 books on Louisville — its neighborhoods and its institutions, including Cave Hill Cemetery and Churchill Downs. A recent work is a comprehensive history of Louisville architecture before 1900.
The Samuel W. Thomas Collection contains prints, negatives, manuscripts, papers, research notes, audio tapes, maps, slides, clippings and building plans.
“This is going to be the collection that people use every single day. It is so rich and full of the information people who come here need,” said Delinda Buie, head of Special Collections.
Staff still are processing the enormous amount of material, but the public can get an idea of its scope through an exhibit of photographs that will be on display Sept. 13–Oct. 25.
Admission to the exhibit is free and open to the public. Photographic Archives is open weekdays 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. It is in the east wing lower level of Ekstrom Library on Belknap Campus.