Hi! I’m Kara Watts-Engley.
I’m a graduate student at Simmons University, working toward my MLIS in archives management.
Over the past 8 weeks, I’ve worked to increase digital accessibility of the photos in CPL's Concord Room archives. These are historic images from all eras of Concord history, which were previously digitized (or scanned) for the sake of long-term preservation. For my internship, I linked these scanned files to the appropriate metadata (detailed information about the photos), in a platform that will eventually be made public. In other words, I helped the library to move one step closer toward making the Concord Room accessible to anyone with a web connection! I’ve been glad to get hands-on experience in digitization and building online photo collections. I also enjoyed seeing how these photos captured local life across 150+ years of Concord history. Below are some of my favorite highlights of historic Concord.
Back in 1915, Concord held its 150th Anniversary celebration. A parade in June included elaborate floats made by local businesses and community groups. My favorite one, however, is a voting rights float! The horse-drawn float with a group of women wearing white, a color typically worn by suffragists. They hold pennant flags with the names of U.S. states and territories that had already granted voting rights to women by 1915: Washington (1883), Arizona (1912), Nevada (1914), and Utah (1870). New Hampshire would later guarantee women’s voting rights once the 19th Amendment passed in 1920.
In 1965, Concord held another landmark celebration with its Bicentennial, commemorating the city’s establishment in 1765. It was fun to see how many residents wore period costumes from the 18th century as part of the festivities (above)! Concord’s celebration even reached the New York World’s Fair that year: Mayor Charles Davie (waving hat) visited in a Concord Coach, in front of the famed World’s Fair unisphere (below).
I also enjoyed looking at scenes of everyday Concord life throughout the decades. Above, the Abbott family relaxes in hammocks during their family reunion in a park in the late 1880s, with a few family members strumming banjos. Below, adults rally for the construction of a new public swimming pool outside the Mayor's office in 1948.
Concord's agricultural roots are really apparent in the photo below, with someone actually farming within view of the statehouse (visible over the treetops) in 1948!
CPL Through the Years:
And of course, many photos show just how important the library itself has been to Concord residents. I loved seeing folks enjoying the library and its services! In the early 1900s, its summer branches and reading rooms offered everyone across the Concord and Penacook area a chance to enjoy a good book, thanks to influential CPL director Grace Blanchard’s outreach efforts. Blanchard is seated at the desk in the Penacook summer branch photo above. Below, she or possibly another librarian greet barefooted children at a summer branch, circa 1905-08.
CPL introduced an innovative mobile library in the form of a book trailer in 1949. Later, this would become a white and orange bus, dubbed the bookmobile!
Above: The CPL book trailer, with children lined up outside and librarian Ruth Chandler in the doorway, 1949. Below: the bookmobile parked at one of it's scheduled stops, circa 1970s.
Photos by area photographer Bill Finney from the 1950s-70s show artful glimpses of the library’s services and additions, including a hospital book cart and young folks utilizing the Ruth May listening room.
Above: a CPL hospital service book cart, offering books to a patient. Below: CPL patrons use the Ruth May listening room, added to the library in 1967.
This is just a peek into some of the gems that the Concord Room’s photo collection has to offer. I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to contribute to this important digitization work. Thank you, Concord!