COLUMBUS, Ga. (WRBL) — What many considered lost for more than a decade, has now returned home. Columbus State University’s Archives and Special Collections staff held a grand reveal of the new Historic Ledger-Enquirer Photography Archive.

We are a part of the world and the world is a part of Columbus. And it’s fun to see it all be tied together.

Tom Converse, Assistant Archivist, CSU’s Archives and Special Collections

Over 100,000 photos from the early 1900s to early 2000s, depicting the history of Columbus, were recovered in an effort to salvage the history of the city. This comes after the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer sold their photos to a private collector in Memphis, Tenn., a few years before the newspaper vacated its longtime home on 12th Street and Broadway in 2015.

We they were sold off when the Ledger-Enquirer changed hands in the early 2000s and in 2020. For a while, we were seeing the historic Columbus photos pop up on eBay.

David Owings, Head of CSU’s Archives and Special Collections

This prompted David Owings, the Head of Columbus State University’s Archives & Special Collections, to reach out to the collector in an attempt to bring the photos back home.

CSU acquired the collection through community donations and the Mildred Miller Fort Foundation.

What that led to is some tremendous support from granting agencies here in Columbus and also from our very first crowdfunding campaign, where we raised over $90,000 just in a couple of months, which I think is a huge testament to the community support and how important this collection is to the community.

David Owings, Head of CSU’s Archives and Special Collections

The archive features thousands of memories captured by photographers with the local newspaper, including street signs, businesses and people’s daily life in the Fountain City.

CSU student archivist, Ava Jasso, assisted in organizing all of the photos. She says a glimpse into the past helps us better appreciate our future when time moves too fast.

The evolution of technology and how fast it’s getting recently, we’re forgetting stuff so much sooner. History repeats itself. The idea is that if we don’t learn from our mistakes, they’re going to happen again. I just think it’s so important to make that connection.

Ava Jasso, CSU Student Archivist

CSU’s Archives and Special Collections has a searchable Excel spreadsheet with 7,500 rows of data open to the public. The staff’s goal is to ultimately upload the collection to their online database called ArchivesSpace, making it available to everyone.