The Lost Panoramas

“There, on steel shelves—alongside time sheets, purchase orders, contracts, and operations records—sat 130 heavy boxes, stenciled by year, of glass-plate negatives. Over the next three years, the negatives were inventoried and scanned. They were placed in cardboard bankers boxes and transferred to the Illinois State Archives inSpringfield, where they remain today.

“What makes the photos historically valuable is that they come with detailed descriptions. Each photograph has a date and a negative number, which refers to a set of leather-bound field books that meticulously pinpoint where every photo was taken. About twenty thousand of the nearly twenty-two thousand negatives are tied to an exact location. The field books, written by hand, usually in pencil, also give insight into the photographers’ lives and their work, since they doubled as expense accounts. Here you will find what kinds of cigars they smoked, the price of gas, the names of small-town hotels.”

Get this book. I read it in an hour, but that was after looking at all the pictures for a day.