Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Historic San Mateo Times photos rescued

More than 20 boxes of photos from the archives of the San Mateo Times have been purchased by the San Mateo County Historical Association, the San Mateo Daily Journal reports. The 30,000 photos span from the 1940s to the 1980s. Mitch Postel of the historical association bought the photos from a collector for $2,500. The Journal reports:
    The images captured in these photos illustrate many news scenes including car accidents and construction, but also features like people at the beach and portrait shots. 
    Ninety-nine percent of the photos are directly out of San Mateo County, with a few photos associated with larger news stories, like the governor of California. The vast majority of photos are portraits of individuals from all sorts of topics, including obituaries, news stories and feature stories, he said. 
    “The portrait shots are of people I’ve heard about but never seen,” said Postel. 
    A notable discovery was a photo of John Daly, the founder of Daly City, which Postel said they never had before in their collections. 
    It is now Postel’s goal to gather journalists who were around when these photos were published to explain the significance of these photos and why these people were in the news. 
    “We have names and dates, but not why they are important,” he said. Older journalists are especially needed to help with photos that date back to the 1970s and earlier. 
    Postel has been in communication with the president of the San Francisco Peninsula Press Club, Marshall Wilson, in working to find journalists to identify the photos. 
    One photo that Postel remembered was a street scene in San Bruno that captured the Jax Drive-in restaurant from 1949, which was located near the present Walgreens on El Camino Real. “It used a wide angle shot. 
    You can see a lot of El Camino and the undeveloped hills, the cool cars and the way people dressed. 
    There is so much you can get out of that photo,” he said. The main goal is for the collection to be arranged so it can be available on display for the public’s use. A couple thousand have been identified so far, but the process still has a while to go with a completion estimate at about six months to one year, he said. 
    “Once it is cataloged, it will be organized so the public can search them and make copies if they like,” said Postel. “It was an important 40-year period with a lot of dynamic things happening.” 
    The San Mateo County Historical Association can be reached at (650) 299-0104.

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