Library appeals for help to identify mystery images

WEWSTCOUNTRY Studies Library in Exeter is asking people to help identify old images from its collection to help with archiving. The library has more than 100,000 images dating back to the early 17th century, catalogued by town or village name. Most are

WEWSTCOUNTRY Studies Library in Exeter is asking people to help identify old images from its collection to help with archiving.

The library has more than 100,000 images dating back to the early 17th century, catalogued by town or village name. Most are of known locations, but some as yet are unknown.

The library has selected 50 of its most intriguing unknown images for this year's 'Location? Location? Location?' investigation, in the hope that people will recognise where the images were taken.

Around half of last year's mystery images were solved with the help of Devon's public, but the centrepiece - a striking photograph of ladies enjoying a dinner in very grand surroundings - still remains an unsolved mystery.


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This year's centrepiece is a photograph of a group of gentlemen in formal dress, standing on the steps of an impressive and distinctive-looking building.

All 50 images form an exhibition that will be on public display at Exeter Central Library from September 21 until October 4, and then at Westcounty Studies Library from October 5 - 18.

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The exhibition has been catalogued digitally, and people will be able to view this year's images via the internet. To view all 50, and to offer suggestions as to their locations, visit www.flickr.com and type in 'Where in Devon' into the search.

All Devon's libraries are promoting this year's challenge, and will be helping the public to view the images and record any suggested locations.

Proof will be needed to verify the accuracy of any claim, and once confirmed, the location of images will be recorded online.

Katherine Dunhill of Westcountry Studies Library, said:

"This important piece of work captures the imaginations of so many people each year, drawing on their memories to recall times and places, perhaps from childhood, or even their present day.

"This is not a competition, there are no prizes. These are images that have been donated by Devon people to the library over the years, and we genuinely do not know where the images were taken.

"With the public's help, we have been able to identify and therefore correctly catalogue many of our previously unknown images.

"People find it great fun, playing amateur detectives to identify places they know, or they think they know. Sometimes we will even hear stories behind the photographs; the reasons why some locations are significant to members of the public."

County Councillor Stuart Barker, who has Cabinet responsibility for Devon's libraries, said:

"This is a great opportunity for people to test their local knowledge of Devon and the Westcountry. The images chosen this year are all quite remarkable - each of them strong, and a reminder of life gone by. The knowledge that people may have about this year's collection is also very valuable to the library, so I hope people will take time to come and see the exhibitions or view them online.

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