For many collections processed before the days of the internet, there may have been a finding aid available as a paper copy accessible only by visiting the archive. Many collection inventories were retroactively added to online repositories or in other various locations and formats online throughout the years, or just noted as having an unpublished inventory in the archive. During the early days of the pandemic at the University of Idaho, we were able to keep student workers employed safely working from home by updating quite a few finding aids and getting them into the same format and program. A few of the larger collections, however, needed the benefit of viewing them in person to ensure all the information is correct. One such collection is the Kyle Laughlin Photograph Collection.
The collection was originally donated in the mid-1980s, but not processed and described until 1998-99. The collection is organized by type such as negatives, slides, and prints, using Laughlin’s original numbering and lettering system. Where individual item descriptions were not included in the original inventory, handwritten indexes, if available, were scanned and linked to in the new finding aid, as seen above. Laughlin included contact prints for the negatives and had organized them into spiral-bound books by topic or subject. Also donated were reel films and notes and research written or collected by Laughlin. In 2009, over 800 negatives were scanned by the University of Idaho Library’s Digital Initiatives department to create the digital Kyle Laughlin Photograph Collection.
Kyle Laughlin considered himself an amateur photographer, but captured thousands of images that portrayed his family and friends, regional native flora, and scenes from his travels, spanning over 50 years from the 1920s to the 1970s. Laughlin’s photos have appeared in many publications and have been used to document changes in the landscape by environmentalists. Most notably, Laughlin captured scenes of the Snake River before the four lower Snake River dams were built in the 1960s and 1970s, showing the beaches and orchards lost to flooding due to the rising reservoirs and when salmon runs were still abundant.
With the recent creation of this finding aid, the Kyle Laughlin Photograph Collection is now keyword searchable through our main search box, as well as having individual digitized items linked out to their pages and any remaining paper inventories have now been scanned and linked to as well.