Salem Historical Society wants to ID old photos

SALEM – At 10 a.m. Wednesday, the Salem Historical Society will be offer the first of many opportunities for the community to assist with the identification of old photographs.

“This session will be held as part of the ‘History in the Round’ initiated recently,” David Stratton, director of the Salem Historical Society Museum, said.

The society is in possession of hundreds of photos and the sessions will be held in the Shaffer Library meeting room located at 239 South Lundy Ave.

Anyone interested, of any age, is invited to participate and share their knowledge with these valuable resources.

Stratton explained that for years the Salem Historical Society has received hundreds of photographs of Salem and other topics.

“Often these pictures are not fully identified which requires an effort to determine the view and/or the individuals related to Salem’s history,” he said.

The inspiration came from Florida resident Phil Shasteen who visits his father, Gordon in Salem, regularly.

A 1967 Salem High School graduate, Phil Shasteen said that two years ago he and his dad took the Salem History Museum tour.

Afterward, Shasteen said he mentioned to one of the guides how impressed they were with displays.

But one thing bugged him.

“I was disappointed that there weren’t more old photos of Salem’s buildings, events and residents,” he said.

“For example, unless I missed them, there were no photos of the Fourth Street School, the Metzger Hotel, the Lape Hotel, or the Ohio Bar and Grill.

“While many of the old buildings are not of historical significance in the traditional sense, they have special meaning to many Salemites.”

He then learned the museum has hundreds of photos but not have the manpower to sort through and label them with notes of what they depict and the significance of the photos.

Shasteen explained that after mentioning it to the society, he brought the subject up with others who suggested “having my 89-year-old father and his SHS classmates spend one day or morning (or maybe more) each week to sort through the photos and record the pertinent information.”

His father is a lifelong resident of Salem and “between him and his classmates,” Shasteen said, “I’m sure the museum would garner priceless information and insight into the significance of the photos.

“All they would need is someone to record their observations.”

It was a great idea whose time had come.

But there is also a sense of urgency, Shasteen said.

“Due to his and his classmates’ ages, this is a time-limited opportunity,” he noted.

That led to contact with Michele Mickey Weaver and the ball got rolling and the society scheduled the first “History in the Round” for June 4.

Stratton said, “Although registration is not necessary it will help with arrangements if a phone call could be made beforehand to 330-337-8514.

Light refreshments will be provided.

Further information can be obtained by contacting the Society.

Shasteen put the idea a little further down the road.

“I also believe that this process could yield a coffee table book of the most significant photos that could be sold to raise funds; or a web-based catalogue with donation requests imbedded strategically among the photos,” he said.