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Bradshaw H. Grady Library (Valley, AL 36854-3212)
Robin Brown (Project Director: April 2017 to August 2019)
Margaret Bourke-White Photomurals Preservation Assessment

A preservation assessment of six photomurals produced by documentary photographer and illustrator Margaret Bourke-White from images taken in 1936 of the West Point Manufacturing Company, headquartered in West Point, Georgia. These 4’ x 8’ murals depict life and work in the factories and villages of a company that encompassed five individual textile mills in eastern Alabama. The project would also include a workshop, led by a preservation specialist, on the care and handling of photographs, open to archivists and other cultural heritage professionals in the region.

In 1936, Margaret Bourke-White was commissioned by the West Point Manufacturing Company, a leading textile manufacturer in the South, to photograph operations at its five mills in Chambers County, Alabama. Already a preeminent photographer and the first female photojournalist with Life magazine, Bourke-White spent two days photographing the interaction of people and machines at the textile mills. From this visit, the company ordered six large photomurals to decorate its new sales room which doubled as its textile research center. Textile manufacturing built, sustained, and defined communities in Chambers County for over 100 years until the industry’s decline in the 1990s. The photomurals preserve a vanishing textile heritage. Cobb Memorial Archives received the photomurals in 2015, after they had sustained damage. With the expertise of an experienced conservator, the Archives will develop a plan to properly store, preserve, and display these visual links to the area’s past.

[Media coverage]

Project fields:
Labor History; Public History; Women's History

Preservation Assistance Grants

Preservation and Access

$5,130 (approved)
$5,130 (awarded)

Grant period:
1/1/2018 – 6/30/2019