‘It’s this glimpse into humanity’: Cape Fear Museum creates new online database

Elly Cosgrove reports: Cape Fear Museum creates a new database.
Published: Feb. 2, 2022 at 9:41 AM EST
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - There’s a new resource that puts the Lower Cape Fear region’s history at your fingertips.

The Cape Fear Museum recently launched an online database that contains essentially its entire collection of photographs.

“We have about 16,000 records of photographs, about 15,000 made it onto the website,” said museum curator Heather Yenco.

Yenco and collections specialist Devin Kelly spent 20 months reviewing each photo in the museum’s archives and uploading it to the new online database.

“I calculated it — it takes about a minute on average to open up a record, work on it and close it to go onto the website,” Yenco said. “So 16,000 records, about a minute a record — that’s about how long it took.”

The online database is free for the public to view and use. Anyone can download any photo they want.

“You can browse, you can put in whatever search term you want it brings up the list. You can literally go through all 15,000 records if you wanted,” Yenco said. “It’s also an opportunity for the community to look at it and say, ‘hey, I know who that person is or I know where that was taken.’ Let us know and we can update the records to better reflect, you know, who’s in the photographs.”

Organizations are also getting use out of the online collection.

“People already saying, ‘hey I found some photographs for my organization this is fantastic that you have it,’” Yenco said about some of the feedback they have received.

Those with the Burgwin-Wright House & Gardens in Downtown Wilmington, for example, posted on Facebook that they have found over 70 images of the historic house.

Yenco said that the images in the collection date back to the beginning of photography, so the mid-1800s.

“There were a number of photography studios that were in town and so we have studio portraits from there and it goes all the way up to literally present day,” she said.

Yenco has always been drawn to photographs because they are “this glimpse into humanity.”

“You do get the person in the past so, you know, objects are great to be able to tell stories and objects and artifacts are really important, but when you have a visual that connects a person to that object or a person to that time period — to me that’s where there’s a really great connection that people can make to the past,” she said.

You can visit the new online database by clicking on this link.

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