Louisville historian Samuel W. Thomas is donating his personal collection of photos, negatives, manuscripts, audio tapes, maps and building plans to the University of Louisville Photographic Archives.
Thomas, a prolific Louisville historian, has written more than 20 books on Louisville neighborhoods, institutions and architecture.
Archives staff are currently sorting though 200 linear material, but an exhibit of notable photos is on display.
“Just as his research is meticulous, his record-keeping also has been meticulous. I have never seen an archival selection in quite the exquisite order,” says Delinda Buie, head of special collections.
Buie says two striking pieces of the collection include a 19th century watercolor painting of the Falls of the Ohio, as well as a photo taken by Thomas of a private mausoleum in Cave Hill Cemetery.
Thomas received his bachelor’s and doctoral degrees in chemistry from U of L in 1960 and 1964 before becoming the first director at Locust Grove historic home and the first Jefferson County archivist.
“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 in a statement. “The Photographic Archives have been a starting point for my research ever since.”
Buie said the Thomas collection is a tremendous addition to the Photo Archives, which will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the R.G. Potter Collection this year.
“We feel so humbled to be the repository for this collection because it really is not a University of Louisville collection. It really is a collection for the region, and certainly for the Louisville community.”
The Samuel Thomas exhibition runs through October 25 at the Photographic Archives in the university’s Ekstrom Library.