www.mozilla.com Weather Central
Voices
Headlines

Digital distractions -10/23/2014, 10:01 AM

Orman for Senate -10/23/2014, 10:01 AM

Federal persecutors -10/23/2014, 10:00 AM

Kids do count -10/22/2014, 10:31 AM

Needing the past in the future? -10/22/2014, 10:31 AM

In praise of hunting -10/22/2014, 10:30 AM

What is a CID? Will it work for mall? -10/21/2014, 10:22 AM

Judging importance on the ballot -10/21/2014, 10:22 AM

Kansas Speaks -10/21/2014, 10:22 AM

Paying for schools -10/19/2014, 1:21 PM

Joining forces for Orman -10/19/2014, 1:21 PM

Research before voting -10/19/2014, 1:21 PM

Davis is moderate? -10/19/2014, 1:21 PM

The most important election in your lifetime -10/19/2014, 1:21 PM

Huelskamp stands out -10/19/2014, 1:21 PM

Kansas farm interests -10/19/2014, 1:21 PM

Keeping unfounded reports from 'going viral' -10/19/2014, 1:21 PM

The age of cynicism -10/18/2014, 9:02 AM

Preventable diseases -10/17/2014, 10:28 AM

Second term needed -10/17/2014, 10:28 AM

Kansans deserve better -10/17/2014, 10:28 AM

Officially killing Americans -10/17/2014, 10:27 AM

New era at FHSU -10/16/2014, 10:01 AM

Roberts is right choice -10/16/2014, 10:01 AM

Crumbling Constitution -10/16/2014, 9:52 AM

Redbelly's future -10/16/2014, 9:52 AM

Kansas deserves better -10/15/2014, 10:23 AM

Remember to vote on Nov. 4 -10/15/2014, 10:23 AM

You almost feel sorry for Sean Groubert -10/15/2014, 10:23 AM

Register to vote -10/14/2014, 10:14 AM

Living on that 70 percent -10/14/2014, 10:14 AM

New bullying problem for schools: parents -10/14/2014, 10:14 AM

Cheerios, marriage equality, the Supreme Court -10/13/2014, 9:49 AM

Wedded bliss -10/12/2014, 5:54 PM

Who is the real fraud? -10/12/2014, 5:08 PM

Teenagers 'make some noise' -10/12/2014, 5:08 PM

Not so private property -10/10/2014, 10:01 AM

Federal funding -10/10/2014, 10:01 AM

Teacher indoctrination -10/10/2014, 10:01 AM

Vote Republican -10/9/2014, 9:49 AM

Non-partisan politics -10/9/2014, 9:49 AM

Teen driver safety week Oct. 19 to 25 -10/9/2014, 9:04 AM

FHSU party -10/9/2014, 10:11 AM

Poverty in America -10/9/2014, 10:11 AM

Let the women serve -10/9/2014, 10:11 AM

Time for new direction -10/8/2014, 9:49 AM

Improving Kansas economically -10/8/2014, 9:35 AM

Water abusers -10/8/2014, 9:35 AM

Play safe on the farm -10/8/2014, 9:34 AM

Where the money comes from -10/7/2014, 10:24 AM

The president's security -10/7/2014, 10:24 AM

Marriage equality -10/7/2014, 10:24 AM

The sins of the father are visited -10/6/2014, 9:02 AM

Cannabis in America: The bottom line -10/6/2014, 9:20 AM

A reason to celebrate -10/6/2014, 9:20 AM

Gov. shields wealthy from paying for schools -10/5/2014, 2:07 PM

Passionate protest in defense of civil disorder -10/5/2014, 2:07 PM

October is time for baseball and, of course, film premieres -10/4/2014, 2:16 PM

Alley cleanup -10/3/2014, 10:01 AM

Will the West defend itself? -10/3/2014, 10:01 AM

Find another school -10/3/2014, 10:01 AM

It's better now -10/2/2014, 9:17 AM

The answer is to bomb Mexico? -10/2/2014, 9:17 AM

Falling revenue -10/2/2014, 9:17 AM

School facilities -10/1/2014, 9:27 AM

Look ahead, not back -10/1/2014, 9:27 AM

Secret Service needs to step up its game -10/1/2014, 9:27 AM

Roosevelts were true leaders -9/30/2014, 9:18 AM

Moral bankruptcy -9/30/2014, 9:18 AM

Expect some sort of change in Topeka -9/30/2014, 9:18 AM

'A tale of two countries' -9/29/2014, 9:59 AM

The last of the Willie Horton ads? -9/29/2014, 9:59 AM

Finding answers to the future of Kansas -9/28/2014, 2:20 PM

College: Where religious freedom goes to die -9/28/2014, 2:20 PM

Honoring Hammond -9/28/2014, 2:20 PM

Do statistical disparities mean injustice? -9/26/2014, 9:53 AM

World university rankings -9/26/2014, 9:52 AM

Kansas experiment -9/26/2014, 9:52 AM

Two anti-choice parties -9/25/2014, 10:03 AM

Not in the same old Kansas anymore -9/25/2014, 10:03 AM

Domestic violence -9/25/2014, 10:03 AM

Back to war we go -9/24/2014, 9:55 AM

Piling on the NFL -9/24/2014, 9:54 AM

Emma Watson looking for a few good men -9/24/2014, 9:54 AM

Renter runaround -9/23/2014, 7:32 PM

Enough is enough -9/23/2014, 9:02 AM

Life of politics in the state -9/23/2014, 9:02 AM

What is and is not child abuse -9/22/2014, 9:30 AM

Cannabis politics and research -9/22/2014, 9:30 AM

Future of The Mall -9/21/2014, 6:14 PM

Multiculturalism is a failure -9/19/2014, 9:52 AM

State education rankings -9/19/2014, 9:52 AM

Kobach gone wild -9/19/2014, 9:52 AM

Bias prevents civil discussion of education issues -9/18/2014, 9:35 AM

Immigration is American -9/18/2014, 9:35 AM

Costs to states not expanding Medicaid -9/17/2014, 10:14 AM

Medicare threats -9/17/2014, 10:12 AM

Green fields in northwest Kansas -9/17/2014, 10:12 AM

Consolidation by starvation -9/16/2014, 9:54 AM

School mergers tricky -9/16/2014, 9:54 AM

myTown Calendar

SPOTLIGHT
[var top_story_head]

Images carry scenes from the past

Published on -9/6/2013, 9:54 AM

Printer-friendly version
E-Mail This Story

We're told that a picture is worth a thousand words, and we know that pictures can preserve fond memories. These days, people must be snapping lots of memories.

This thought came to mind during the past week, when I worked with several 100-year-old pictures that furnish a pictorial insight into local farm history. These scenes were captured by a professional photographer and show details of Kansas harvesting that I'd never seen before.

The harvest pictures were especially interesting because they were preserved on four-by-six-inch sheets of glass. The old-time professional photographers composed their scenes with large cameras, usually held by a tripod, that were equipped with extremely sharp lenses. Thus the detail in those scenes is sharply focused on the large glass negatives.

These days, people use all types of handy cameras to snap pictures of everything that moves. But, back when these harvest scenes were taken, professional photographers seldom shot anything that they weren't paid to take. To save money, the photographer sometimes used these glass negatives. They were home-made. He coated the sheets of glass with a light-sensitive emulsion which was developed in much the same manner as more-recent plastic film.

These glass negatives were loaned to Downs Historical Society for copying. Thanks to the digital revolution, the copying was quite different from the printing on photo paper that was used more recently. We used my digital scanner, which seems like a miracle machine in its simplicity.

The emulsion for these glass negatives was simply scanned and turned into digital files.

I can operate the scanner, but I can't really explain how the digital files are created. Think of it as magic. But the wonderful results copy every scene in detailed digits that can be saved and used with a computer to print more pictures. Thus everyone can have copies which never are spoiled by neglect, misuse, weather or time.

We at the local historical society are pleased because we gained 20 or more pictures of historic buildings in Downs, along with detailed shots of wheat headers and header-barges, horses and the harvest crew.

Not many people can recall headers. They harvested our wheat in the years almost a century ago, before we were around. This photographer captured detailed scenes of that era. A six-horse team walked behind the header's sickle-bar, with a reel spinning to knock the heads of wheat back onto a continuous canvas. This canvas conveyed the wheat heads and short stalks to the side, where another canvas conveyor sent the wheat upward at a 45-degree angle, and then it fell into a hayrack-like header barge.

The harvest crew drove horses that pulled rack loads of wheat to a convenient point, where the crop was stacked. Sometimes several wheat stacks were built at the same location. Then, when the threshing machine arrived, it was parked between the stacks so that the harvest could be pitched into the thresher's hungry maw.

All of this activity is pictured in a few scenes -- scenes that I had never seen with any detail until now. That's the beauty of pictures. They preserve our fond memories and our many activities and provide a great record of our lives. One note of warning here ... don't forget to mark your scenes with dates and the names of those photographed. With that record, members of historical societies, like me, will know what we're talking about.

Cameras and pictures have become so common in this digital age that some folks don't even print them. They show pictures of their grandchildren on the screen of their camera or phone device. The Kodak company doesn't seem to make film anymore.

The digital world has passed them by, but doesn't need to pass us by.

Darrel Miller lives near Downs in rural Osborne County and is a retired weekly newspaper editor.

digg delicious facebook stumbleupon google Newsvine
More News and Photos

Associated Press Videos

AP Breaking News