Farmer Photograph Collection

Pulaski at one time had two photographers with the last name of Farmer. Kenneth Rudolph Farmer, (June 21, 1920- February 2, 2014) and Theda Farmer (July 14, 1923 – April 27, 2007)- turns out they were married. It also turns out that they ran photography studios in Pulaski county for over 60 years and left behind thousands of negatives from their years of work. When their studios were shut down, all of their photo negatives were stored in boxes where they sat until one of the Farmer’s children contacted the Archives and Special Collections Department of McConnell Library and asked if we would be interested in taking possession of them. After an initial inspection of the collection and in-house discussion, the answer was “yes” and ever since, we have been sorting and processing this very large collection- The Farmer Photograph Collection.

.side room Farmer060


Most of the Farmer photographs are studio portraits, but the rest seem to be photos taken for human interest, insurance companies, newspapers, and other “for hire” places. In soSiderRoomFarmer189rting through these, we were struck by how they painted an intimate portrait of Pulaski County. These photos range from around 1945 to sometime in the 2000s and as far as subject matter goes, they range from significant news-worthy events to general daily life to interesting looking old houses to new stone office buildings etc etc.

As is the case with old photographs, some of the places we see in these are no longer there. Some of the people are gone too, but what we are left with are moments in time frozen for posterity. I love seeing people casually glancing at the photographer, not posing at all, just going about their day with no thought that this moment is to be saved and pondered or cherished years later by people not even born yet and viewed in ways not even dreamed of at that time. I love seeing the buildings that are still around now but are being used differently than they were in these photos. There is a certain beauty in all of this for me. A moment in time captured. Photographs bewitch me sometimes.

side room Farmer136

Pulaski County was officially formed March 30, 1839 and is named for Count Casimir Pulaski (3/6/1745-10/11/1779), a Polish nobleman, soldier and military commander.  His efforts toward protecting Poland from Russian domination in the 1700s were noticed by Benjamin Franklin, who encouraged Pulaski to move to America and help fight the Revolutionary War.  He took Franklin’s advice and made a name for himself through acts of bravery and innovative thinking and among other things, became a general in the Continental Army, reformed the American calvary and even saved the life of George Washingon.  He was wounded in the Battle of Savannah and died shortly after.  He has been recognized and celebrated in the United States by various ways including, having a bust in the US Capitol, has an official day named for him (October 11), and has appeared on a United States Stamp (.02 stamp issued 1931) and is one of only seven people to ever be awarded an honorary United States Citizenship (signed into law November 6, 2009).

Pulaski County has been the home to many industries throughout the years, among them, Bertha Zinc Works, Pulaski Iron Co, Pulaski Mining Co, Farmer046Dora Furnace Co, NRV Airport, NRV Truck Assembly Plant, Pulaski Furniture, Virginia Maid Hosiery, a community college and various other farming, textile, furniture, and automobile companies.

Included in this posting are a few examples of the Farmer Photographs that I am particularly fond of (If you click on the photos you will see a bigger version of them). I hope they will pique your interest, as they did mine. If they do, please visit the collection online and please feel free to contact me with details or identification of things you see in this collection. If you know the people or place or situation, pass it on These are photographs from a community and it is my hope that gathering information about them can be a community project too. This is a growing collection at this point, so check back often for updates, spend some time looking through them. I know I will be.  (Copyright is held by Kenneth Rudolph Farmer II, and these photographs are reproduced here by permission of the copyright owner. The images are available for free personal, non-commercial, and educational use, provided that proper citation is used (e.g. Farmer Photograph Collection, Appalachian Collection, McConnell Library, Radford University, Radford, VA). Any commercial use or unauthorized reproduction of these photographs, without the written permission of the copyright owner, is strictly prohibited. Please refer to the McConnell Library Archives and Special Collections website for more information.)



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