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Walter Reuther Library employees working to identify children in historic photos

July 4, 2016


Nearly 100 photos stored in a box at the Walter P. Reuther Library at Wayne State University are leaving employees wondering who the kids in the pictures are. "They're stunning images but more than being beautiful examples of photography they're these children. We'd like to know who they were," says Elizabeth Clemens, audiovisual archivist. The photos were taken in the late 1930s and early 1940s. They capture images of children living on the near east side - paradise valley, black bottom and brush park - neighborhoods that don't really exist anymore. They were removed by the construction of I -75. "I think there's a really large hole in our historic record locally. A lot of places didn't really collect the history of African Americans. Even if it's just finding out the name of a child in a photograph we want to record as much as possible while we can," says Clemens. "It's not the famous people, the people we all know but they're equally important in their own way."