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Valley Visual: Combing the Photo Archives for a Glimpse of Primaries Past



Monday, February 08, 2016
There are many things I enjoy about my job as Valley News photo editor. At at the top of the list are telling the stories of our communities and working in a newsroom stacked with talented, smart and funny people.

Combing through the newspaper’s photo archive is another highlight of my job.

During a planning meeting a month ago, we were spitballing ideas. Sunday Valley News Editor Ernie Kohlsaat suggested a page of older photos from our New Hampshire primary coverage.

Intrigued, I began the search.

Working from a list of presidential candidates, I started with our digital archive. A few keystrokes pulled up a lot of work since 2003, some photos that I remember and many I had forgotten about.

From there, I was off to the Valley News library, a small room in the building that houses not only filing cabinets of newspaper articles and photographs from the 1980s and 1990s, but also is filled with stacks and stacks of town reports and other miscellany such as the 1982 edition of the Vermont Municipal Clerks Handbook and 25 Mountain Bike Tours in the Hudson Valley.

And finally, I was off to another small room where more filing cabinets and dusty boxes hold staff photographers’ negatives from about 1960 to 2002. Over the years, filing procedures changed. It took a bit of sleuthing to determine how candidates’ Upper Valley appearances were filed from the days of Twin Lens Reflex cameras. (The answer: a cabinet drawer labeled “Mug File.”)

While the cameras used by Valley News photographers have changed over the past 50 years, I was struck by what all of the images have in common: telling the New Hampshire Primary’s unique story of presidential hopefuls meeting face-to-face with voters.

Working on a project like this reaffirms the value in keeping and maintaining our archive. As time passes, photographs capture the changes in dress, landscape and, with this project, the style of politicking. As I continue to maintain our current photo archive, I hope looking back at primary coverage from 2016 is equally interesting to readers in the future.

Find a photo spread of primary photos from decades past in the upcoming SUNDAY VALLEY NEWS. More photos will be available with the online version.

Geoff Hansen has served as photo editor since 1998 after starting at the VALLEY NEWS as staff photographer in 1989. He can be reached at ghansen@vnews.com or 603-727-3247.

Posted to the Valley Visual blog Friday at 11:55 a.m.