Collecting (mostly copies of but some original) historic photos, documents and artifacts related to our fair city, Maplewood, has been my hobby for the past 13 years. Beginning in 2002 during the short life of the Maplewood Historical Society (which morphed into the even shorter lived Maplewood Historic Preservation Corporation), myself and others rounded up some of these items for temporary public displays.
In the pre-Internet days this was the most effective way to get them before the public. It took so much effort to get so few items before such a very small number of people, it’s a wonder that we bothered.
Then in 2007, Carol Klein, then director of the C of C called and asked if I would be interested in working on a community history book to be done under the auspices of the MCBF (pronounced, I assume, MacBeef, but actually stands for Maplewood Community Betterment Foundation). I was and did. The book was to commemorate our 100th anniversary in 2008.
The research done for the book, “the First one hundred years Maplewood, MO.” (that is the title and there are no mistakes in capitalization) — I have to get the book and look at it every time I type the title; needless to say the title and creative capitalization weren’t my idea — led to my first learning how to digitize photos (thank you Kathy Whipple). I then digitized nearly all of the historic photos in the collection of the Maplewood Public Library.
I began putting those photos online almost exactly six years ago. The first two years were on the City of Maplewood’s Facebook page with the help of our community development director, Rachelle L’ecuyer. The next two years were on the now nearly dead AOL-owned Maplewood/Brentwood Patch website. The last two years have been on Doug Miner’s 40 South News site.
At this time there must be at least a thousand photos, historic Maplewood related, floating in the ether. As I have mentioned in the past, it is my goal to add all of the digitized images of historic photos, documents and artifacts to the collection of the Maplewood Public Library.
My “Maplewood History” blog now generates from the readers most of the newly discovered old images I post. In addition, Donna Ratkowski and I have formed what I call the Ratkowski-Houser Foundation. Works like this: She finds and buys original historic images of Maplewood, then I pay half and we donate them to our library. I have the easiest job. I’d have to ask Donna but I think so far we’ve found about eight. Here are some of the most recent ones.