Skip to main content

Furnas Family photograph collection

 Unprocessed Material
Identifier: 1998_011-PA

Content Description

Glass plate negatives from Sara-Jean McDowell estate. Accretion March 2014: three binders of personal histories/diaries; four small black photo albums, Approximately 60 photos; twenty loose photos; one binder of pages from a photo album; seven letters to Lucile; seven newspaper clippings; five various announcements of Clifton Furnas' book release; 25 pages of types poetry from T. Chalmers Furnas; 3 photos relating to McDowells. The collection provides a unique, sentimental, and sometimes humorous view into the lives of members and friends of the Furnas family of Louisville, Kentucky, in the early 1900s. In addition to photographs of the family at their home and in rural Marion County, Indiana, it features scenes of Louisville (including local parks, buildings, monuments, and steamboats on the Ohio River) and travels west (to the Louisiana Purchase Exposition in St. Louis, Missouri and as far as Spokane, Washington). Walton Furnas co-owned Furnas & Maddox Photographic and Stereoscopic Supplies in Louisville, Kentucky. His son Vincent Furnas was an engineer with the Louisville Home Telephone Company, and several photographs document the installation of telephone poles and wires in the Louisville area circa 1905. One of Walton's daughters, Lucile Furnas, is listed as a nurse in the 1905 Louisville city directory, and her graduation from nursing school is documented in the album. Before Walton Furnas moved to Louisville, he farmed at Spicewood, the Quaker community just outside Sheridan, Indiana. Lucile and Vincent were born, grew up, and went to school in Spicewood. Their mother, Eva Smith Furnas, died when they were young and is buried in Spicewood Cemetery with the Furnas family. Eventually Walton married Maddie Teeter and had two more children. The Furnas Family Album (circa 1887 -1910) Digital Collection consists of 607 images, most of which were captured with a 4 x 5 camera. Although the style and content of the photographs indicate that they are family photographs, the identity of the photographers is unknown. The two albums with 247 silver gelatin prints mounted onto paper and the glass negatives and 18 film negatives of varying sizes appear to have been maintained in a loose chronological order. This order, as well as the progress of images of Lucile Furnas, provides the range of dates for the collection. Handwritten captions under some of the images supplied information for titles and locations. Additional information comes from Louisville city directories and genealogical sources. Titles in the digital collection were supplied by the cataloger unless otherwise noted in the Description field. The photographs and negatives were donated to Photographic Archives at the University of Louisville by Rick Simmons in 1998 so that they would be preserved for use by future students and researchers. The albums were disassembled so that the pages could be removed from the binding and re-housed in acid-free archival materials. All of the images were scanned, although the digital collection excludes duplicates, copy negatives, and images of particularly poor quality.

Acquisition Type


Language of Description


Script of Description


Restrictions Apply



  • circa 1887-1910


609 photographs (7 boxes, 2 binders)