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Digital Collections : Arthur Younger Ford (1861-1926) Photograph Albums

Arthur Younger Ford (1861-1926) Photograph Albums

About the Collection

Arthur Younger Ford was born in 1861 in Parkville, Missouri and raised in Owensboro, Kentucky. He graduated from Brown University in 1884 and served as the chairman of the University of Louisville Board of Trustees (1914-1921) and first full-time president of the University of Louisville (from 1921 until his death in 1926). Among Ford's accomplishments as president were acquiring Belknap Campus and securing the Louisville City Hospital as a teaching clinic for the Medical Department. Prior to his work at the University of Louisville he worked as a journalist, first for the Owensboro Inquirer (1884-1889), and then as managing editor of the Courier-Journal (1890-1907), and as a businessman (1907-1921), with the Fidelity & Columbia Trust Company, then the Goodwin Preserving Company.

The Arthur Younger Ford photograph albums were assembled in 1904 for display in the Kentucky Building at the Louisiana Purchase Exposition in St. Louis. After the Exposition, also known as the St. Louis World's Fair, the albums remained in the hands of Ford, who had campaigned for the presentation of a Kentucky exhibit and been named chair of the Kentucky Committee for the fair. The three surviving albums were donated to the University of Louisville Photographic Archives by the Ford family in 1970.

Two of the Ford albums contained 309 photographs of Kentucky scenes from the Appalachian, Bluegrass, and Western portions of the state. The third album contained 69 photographs of the Louisiana Purchase Exposition, including views of the Kentucky Building and exhibits. The albums contained no views from the Louisville area or from the Northern Kentucky region near Cincinnati, Ohio. It seems reasonable, therefore, to assume that there had originally been at least one other album. The official reports of the Kentucky Committee list the photographers whose work was exhibited, but not all of those named are represented in the extant albums. Unfortunately, the reports do not contain an itemized listing of the photographs displayed at the exposition.

The photographs contained in the albums are all gelatin silver prints. Almost all of the images produced for display at the fair depict a Kentucky that seems pre-industrial despite the fact that all the views date from approximately 1890 through about 1903. The scenes show Kentuckians ranging from immaculately dressed thoroughbred owners to shoeless country people, living in a time when transportation was by horse, and hemp, not tobacco, was still the prime Kentucky crop. The images support the goals of the Commission, as stated by Ford in his report:

The Kentucky Building and each of the State's exhibits spoke an invitation to the home-seeker, the laborer, the capitalist; spoke of the opportunities of a new State with the home life of an old State; spoke of fertile soil, splendid climate, varied products, cheap fuel, contented labor, good schools, good colleges, good roads, good people, cheap timber lands, oil lands, coal lands, clay deposits, rich lead and zinc, cheap raw material, low taxes, cheap transportation, growing industries. (Ford, 46)

The 69 images from the fair, comprising the third album, were produced by official fair photographers for a mass market. They include images of Kentucky's and other states' agricultural exhibits; of the buildings and landscape of the fairgrounds, in what is now St. Louis' Forest Park; and of one of the fair's most defining and disturbing features, the anthropological exhibits. Over 2,000 indigenous people from around the world, including approximately 1,000 from the Philippines, a then-new protectorate of the U.S., were brought to the fair in order to expose fairgoers to other cultures, and to expose people from those cultures to the mores and amenities of Western civilization at the dawn of the 20th century. The manner in which the indigenous people were presented and treated may offend modern-day viewers; the University of Louisville does not endorse the content of, or expression carried by, these images. However, these images do present the attitudes and assumptions of some people of the period in which they were produced. The cultural record would be incomplete—and we would not be honest with ourselves and our past—if these images were omitted.

The digital collection contains 377 images from the 379 filed with the Ford photograph albums. One duplicate image was removed from display, and another was discovered to belong to the Claude C. Matlack Collection.

About the Cataloging

According to the collection inventory for the Arthur Younger Ford photograph albums, typed captions were mounted under the images in the albums. The albums were disassembled in 1978 so that the prints could be removed from the badly deteriorated, highly acidic album pages and rehoused in acid-free archival materials. Although the prints were individually numbered in the order in which they appeared in the albums, the typed captions were not retained in the collection. When available, information handwritten on the back of the acid-free paper, presumably derived from the typed captions, has been used for the Title, Photographer, and Location Depicted fields of the online presentation, except when other sources provided additional information (such as the inventory's assertion that some photographs attributed to photographer James Mullen were actually taken by R. C. Ballard Thurston). Titles supplied by the cataloger(s) have been noted in the Description field, in accordance with our data dictionary (PDF). The images at the World's Fair often had writing on the front, possibly in Ford's hand, which was used to create titles; other titles were copied from captions for the same images in published sources about the fair (see References, below), or constructed by the cataloger based on research in published sources.

Conditions of Use

The University of Louisville welcomes fair use of this website and its contents. If you wish to publish, broadcast, or publicly display these materials, please notify Archives and Special Collections. In addition, it is your responsibility to determine and satisfy copyright or other use restrictions, which may include paying fees for commercial use. For further information about permissions, use, and ordering reproductions, see Order Reproductions, or contact Archives and Special Collections, University of Louisville.

To cite an image from this collection, please use the format:
[Image Number], Arthur Younger Ford (1861-1926) photograph albums, 1977.01, Photographic Archives, University of Louisville, Louisville, Kentucky.
To cite the digital version, add its Reference URL (found by following the link in the header above the digital file).


Many university faculty, staff, students, and volunteers have contributed to the preservation and documentation of the Ford photograph albums.

The images were originally scanned for the Kentucky Digital Library in 2004 as 300 ppi TIFFs in 24-bit RGB color. Subsequent researcher requests resulted in the creation of 600 ppi RGB TIFFs of for select images, which were used when available. Rachel I. Howard batch converted the TIFF images to JPEGs of "best" quality and resized to 600 pixels in the longest dimension using IrfanView version 4.23, then uploaded the JPEGs to CONTENTdm Digital Collection Management Software version 4.3.

Amy Hanaford Purcell began the process of standardizing the metadata, assisted by Susannah Starks. Rachel I. Howard completed this effort after conducting additional research on the photographs taken at the Louisiana Purchase Exposition.

Terri L. Holtze designed the HTML pages. Dwayne K. Buttler, J.D., provided copyright advice.


Bennitt, Mark and Frank Parker Stockbridge. History of the Louisiana purchase exposition, comprising the history of the Louisiana territory, the story of the Louisiana purchase and a full account of the great exposition, embracing the participation of the states and nations of the world, and other events of the St. Louis world's fair of 1904. St. Louis: Universal Exposition Publishing Company, 1905.

Breitbart, Eric. A World on Display: Photographs from the St. Louis World's Fair. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1997.

Buel, J.W. Louisiana and the Fair: An exposition of the world, its people and their achievements. 10 vol. St. Louis: World's Progress Publishing Co., 1904.

Chalmers, Stephen. "Arthur Y. Ford Albums." History of Photography research project, University of Louisville, Fall 1996.

Ford, Arthur Y. Kentucky at the World's Fair, St. Louis, 1904: Being a report of the commission authorized by an act of the General Assembly to the governor of the commonwealth. [Frankfort? 1904?]

Hanson, John Wesley. The Official History of the Fair, St. Louis, 1904: The sights and scenes of the Louisiana Purchase Exposition. [n.p.] [c1904]

Morison, William J. "Ford, Arthur Younger." In The Kentucky Encyclopedia, edited by John E. Kleber, 341. Lexington, Ky.: University Press of Kentucky, 1992.

Pharus-Map. World's Fair St. Louis 1904. (accessed August 20, 2009).

Arthur Y. Ford, Standiford Photo, Louisville, ca. 1900 (Image Number ULPA 2005.003.03) Photographic Archives, University of Louisville, Louisville, Kentucky
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