CRESTVIEW — Faces from the past gaze from a crisp, high-definition computer monitor’s wide screen, a seeming incongruity given the photo's origin.
However, after countless hours by late Baker Block Museum volunteer JC Connor, about 90 percent of the museum's photo collection has been digitized.
Connor, who died May 21, left behind a legacy for the North Okaloosa Historical Association, which runs the museum and its historic and genealogical research library, museum director Ann Spann said.
He borrowed Crestview High School, Laurel Hill School and Baker School yearbooks and scanned their pages into the archive, she said.
Photographing pages from the Crestview Public Library’s bound copies of old Okaloosa News Journal newspapers was particularly necessary as time was taking their essence.
"They're crumbling," Spann said. "They're so brittle they're just going to crumble apart. We need to preserve them as fast as we can."
Connor worked on the project on his own time over the last several years, around his full-time job as the Okaloosa County School District’s chief information officer.
"We jokingly referred to JC as the 'picture king' because he loved old photos," Spann said.
Scanning through archived images, Spann pauses at a senior class photo from the 1944 "Bulldogger" yearbook. It is mostly girls.
"All the guys are gone to fight World War II," Spann said. "There were just two dudes in the whole class."
While some people in the pictures have been identified, many have not been, Spann said. When local historians come to help put names to faces, they begin reminiscing about the old days, she said.
Claudia Patten, who co-authored "Crestview: The Forkland," and Colleen Polly recently pored over scores of digitized photos.
"They'd pull up a picture of the class of 1940 and by golly, they'd know everybody in it," Spann said. "Then they'd start telling stories. Every picture has a story."
The historical society has not decided how to make the photos available to the public, or whether a searchable online archive would be created, Spann said.
"It's definitely a work in progress," she said. "There's a lot of stuff we have to sort and identify. The museum is really grateful for all the hours JC put into this and we're dedicated to continuing the project."
Contact News Bulletin Staff Writer Brian Hughes at 850-682-6524 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @cnbBrian.