We’re starting the New Year by taking a closer look at our old photographs. I’ve been intrigued by this picture for some time. It is a good example of the old “big long” photos taken with the Cirkut camera used by local photographers such Harvey Bright, Cal Gay, Mr. Slavin and others. These cameras captured a panoramic image by pivoting horizontally (along a vertical axis), while a roll of film moved across the film plane. The distortion of straight lines gives the photo an unusual look because the image was captured from a sweeping, curved perspective, and we are viewing it flat.

This photo from the Historical Society Collection is labeled “Large Group at Pocahontas Co. Courthouse.” That doesn’t tell us much, so I started wondering who these people are and why they gathered here. As I scanned the faces through my looking glass I was surprised to see my grandmother seated in the center wearing a white dress and a large black hat. She was Jessie McComb of Huntersville, who at the time would have been teaching school in Durbin. And so, I am certain that this is a Teachers Institute held in Marlinton around 1910.

Next time you’re fishing through old photographs imagine that you’re Alice in Wonderland. Take a trip through the looking glass. You might be surprised at what you find. It might be your grandmother! Photo Courtesy of Pocahontas Co. Historical Society, ID: PHS002801


Access the “Preserving Pocahontas” Digital Library at http://www.pocahontaspreservation.org or http://www.preservingpocahontas.org If you have photographs or documents to be scanned for the county Historical Archive Project contact Preservation Officer B. J. Gudmundsson at 304-799-3989 or email info@pocahontaspreservation.org Prints of photographs from the archives are available.PRESERV POCA TeachersInstitute Marlinton1910