Thursday, November 6, 2008

Casasola Photography Studio

"The time has come," the Walrus said, "to talk of many things."

Thursday, on Shades Of The Departed, will be dedicated to many things,
and nothing in particular.

Many Things Thursday

Rebecca Fenning (a sense of face), this week's Guest Author in Friday From The Collectors, sent Shades a link to a Wall Street Journal article about an archivist at the University of Texas-El Paso (UTEP) Library who is trying to identify the people in 50,000 antique negatives left behind in the now-closed Casasola photography studio.

That archivist is Claudia Rivers. Rivers has been running many of the photographs in the El Paso Times in the weekly feature called "Do you know the people in this photo?"

Alfonso Casasola opened the photography studio in 1920. He died in 1948, but his widow and daughter kept the studio open until 1992. When it closed, the construction crew hired to gut it found boxes crammed with negatives and hand-tinted prints. They were neatly bundled, tied with ribbon and grouped by category -- farmworkers, women, weddings and children. But none was identified by name. Workers brought the collection to a pawn shop, where a local artist picked it up. In 1996, with the collection decaying badly, the artist sold it to the university library for preservation.

Rivers has worked stories about people identified in the old photos into museum exhibits and El Paso Times stories. She is developing a new exhibit she hopes to display at Ellis Island, N.Y.

I know readers of Shades will want to help. Look at this beautiful little cowgirl, one of the unidentified photographs. Do you know her?


Did you live or did you have ancestors and relatives that lived in El Paso? Browse the Cassola collection and see if you can identify any of the people in the photographs. The database page has an email link for you to upload the information to the archivist. And if you have a story, tell it! They want the stories as well.

Let Shades know if you make
a connection!


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