Trail Historical Society volunteer Julie Szilagy (left) and City of Trail Collections Coordinator Joyce Austin are finalizing photos for the museum’s first Face Your Friday event. They estimate 400 to 500 photos were organized into categories including individual and family portraits and Cominco personnel. (Sarah Benson-Lord photo)

‘Face your Friday’ in downtown Trail

Museum is seeking help to identify faces in the archives’ historical collections

The Trail Museum and Archives is asking all locals, “How’s your memory? Been around Trail a while?”

The reason behind the questions is that your help is needed for “Face Your Friday,” an event being held in the Riverfront Centre tomorrow wherein guests will be asked to help identify faces in historical photos that have been tucked away for years.

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“Round up your buddies, enjoy a coffee and help us identify photos from our sports, Cominco, and general collections,” says Sarah Benson-Lord, archival manager.

“Face your Friday” goes from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 27 in the Riverfront Centre as it houses the historical collections.

“We intend to set up in our Multipurpose Room facing Jubilee Park so we can spread out a bit,” Benson-Lord explained. “All photographs will be categorized by subject and stored in protective sleeves, so people with knowledge of certain areas, like the smelter, can start with what they know,” she said.

“This is a drop-in style program, so the public is welcome to stay as little or as long as they like.”

The impetus for the gathering is the fact that staff at the museum is faced with stacks of photographs that have remained unaccessioned (uncatalogued) due to lack of basic data, mainly names-to-faces.

“We have little use for photographs that we can’t identify,” Benson-Lord said.

“So, in an effort to clear some backlog and make some final decisions on exactly what to do with some of these photos, we’re ‘opening up the vault’ so to speak, and inviting the public in to lend us a hand.”

If the turnout is good, “Face your Friday” may become a monthly session.

“Not only does it help us document our collection accurately, but we hope it provides participants an opportunity to reminisce and share memories,” Benson-Lord shared.

“As staff, we learn quite a bit about our local history from general conversation with our museum patrons and donors.”

Photographs range from the 1930s up to the 1970s and 1980s.

“We are looking to name faces from sports photos, Cominco photos and hopefully some really beautiful family portraits that were found in the basement of an old photography studio many years ago,” she said.

“The family portraits, in my opinion, are by far the most interesting. We tend to take for granted our ability to capture a moment in an instant on our phones or digital cameras.”

The hiring of a photographer to capture a specific moment in time long ago was a big deal, just as it is now.

“This is why we hire professionals to document our most important events,” Benson-Lord added. “Identifying these faces, even with simply a surname, not only serves to expand on our metadata, but it also serves to honour both the image subjects and the photographers who captured them.”

Anyone who has been in Trail for a while, ideally since the 1950s and 1960s, who worked at the smelter or played sports, and anyone who has a great memory for detail, is encouraged to join in.

“We’ll be serving coffee and some goodies,” Benson-Lord proposed.

“So instead of visiting your local hangout with your coffee group, we hope you’ll consider relocating to the museum for some coffee and a chat with us.”

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