Breaking News
More () »

'I knew it was a unique visual history unlike anything else': UofL Archives receives massive photo donation

Members of the Bingham family and the Courier Journal donated the collection to help with the preservation of more than 3 million images.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The University of Louisville's Archives and Special Collections received a massive donation of photos from one of Louisville's most historic newspapers.

The Courier Journal and the newspaper's parent company Gannett donated an estimated 3 million photographs and negatives to the UofL Archives.

Members of the Bingham family,including his two daughters Emily and Molly, also donated to the collection to help with the preservation and preparation of the collection for the public. 

Emily is an author and historian while Molly is a photojournalist and a filmmaker. 

"There's simply no better way to honor his enduring legacy as a newsman than by securing this brilliant, powerful, historic collection created over the years, day by day, and frame by frame by this incredibly talented team of journalists," Molly said.

The Bingham family owned the newspaper from 1918 to 1986.

The Barry Bingham Jr. Courier-Journal Photo Collection shows the "daily happenings and major events" from around the mid-1930s to the early 2000s.

Archives and special collections director Carrie Daniels said the collection has moments from the Civil Rights movement, World War II, the Derby, behind-the-scene images of popular people and much more.

"It essentially doubles the holdings of the photographic archive," University of Louisville photographic archivist Elizabeth Reilly said. "The significance of the photos to our community cannot be measured." 

The collection will need to be sorted, archived and digitized which is extremely time consuming, Reilly said. She said the demand for the archive is high, but said donations will help them reach their goals processing this collection. 

Reilly also recognized the Courier Journal's senior photojournalist Pat McDonogh, saying "he never gave up the effort to safeguard this collection."

"I've had many sleepless nights over the fate of the Courier archive," McDonogh said. 

The tenured photojournalist said his passion was inspired and grew from the talented photojournalists that he worked with when first joining the Courier Journal. He made it a mission to protect the extensive archive within the walls of the newspaper's building after it was set to be sold. 

"For all these years, I knew what was in the archive. I knew it was a unique visual history unlike anything else," McDonogh said. "It needed to be saved. Many archives are falling in the trash bin because people don't understand the value of them." 

Courier Journal editor Mary Irby-Jones said this allows the newspaper to retain the legacy of their work.

“It is important for us to preserve and share our work with others so our community can learn about the history of Louisville as captured through our photographers in the field for more than 150 years," Irby-Jones said.

Anyone who wishes to donate to the collection can do so by contacting Denise Bohn or clicking here.

"Everyone is part of history," Emily Bingham said. "And this is one of the ways we see ourselves through history."

Make it easy to keep up-to-date with more stories like this. Download the WHAS11 News app now. For Apple or Android users.

Have a news tip? Email assign@whas11.com, visit our Facebook page or Twitter feed.

Sign up for the WHAS11 newsletter: "WHAS Up Kentuckiana." Get the latest headlines and videos from around Kentuckiana delivered daily to your inbox.

Before You Leave, Check This Out