NSU’s Cammie G. Henry Archive and Research Center, housed in the university’s Watson Library, hosted an opening of its latest exhibit at the archive Thursday, January 23. The exhibit is titled “A Glimpse of Shreveport” and is composed of a remarkable series of photographs of day to day worklife in a variety of businesses in the city. The photographs were taken by an unknown photographer in late 1917 and 1918. The photos show everything from welders to clerks, all in amazing detail. One can easily read the time from clocks in the photo’s background as well as the date from calendars. The location of several of the businesses photographed may be deduced by looking at what is visible through the windows in the background of the shot. In one case, Shreveport’s First Methodist Church can be clearly seen through a window, enabling a viewer to find the location of the business shown. The photographs are a fascinating resource for local history buffs.
The photographs were commissioned by the Shreveport Chamber of Commerce and were intended to highlight the economic progress of the city. Of the 400 original photographs, 250 remain today. The first few pages of the collection list facts about the Shreveport of a century ago. For example in 1918, the city boasted of 37 miles of paved roads with 42 more on the way. All of the businesses and industries in Shreveport were listed. One of them, Allen Millwork, is still in business, albeit under a different name. The business still uses the wooden carts shown in the 1918 photographs to transport materials within the facility.
The collection narrowly escaped the trash pile. The collection’s owner, Edward Chopin, was helping friends move about 40 years ago. As he was leaving the house, he noticed what looked like a scrapbook on a pile of items left at the curb. He turned it over and saw the title “A Glimpse of Shreveport” with the photographs inside. It was to prove a fortunate discovery, preserving an irreplaceable link to our area’s past. The exhibit was previously on display at Centenary College and will be at the Cammie Henry Archive for all to enjoy until March 27. The archive is housed in the 3rd floor of NSU’s Watson Libray and is open Monday through Thursday from 8:00 am to 5:00pm and 8 am to noon on Friday. The exhibit has no admission charge. “A Glimpse of Shreveport” is a truly remarkable window to the past and is a delight to look through.