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Digital Watauga Project Exhibit: Animals of Digital Watauga

A handsome fox poses with his owner, James Carter Shell, about 1895. Image from the Bethel Collection, Digital Watauga Project.

For this year’s Jones House exhibition of images from the Digital Watauga Project (DWP), we decided to take a deep dive into our collections to find the pets, livestock, and exotic animals that have been captured in photographs over the past century and a half. This unusual and much anticipated exhibit will occupy the walls of the Jones House main gallery from May 3 until May 30, 2023. We will hold a gallery talk at the Jones House, 604 West King Street in Boone, at 5:30pm as part of our Opening Night Reception on Friday, May 5, 2023 (5:00pm to 7:00pm).

In recognition of the special place that our beloved animals hold in our community and our individual lives, we will donate 20% of the proceeds from the print sales of the 52 images featured in this exhibit to the Watauga County Humane Society to help find forever homes for the cats, dogs, and other critters they take care of.

Tom Moody tries to herd a couple of cats outside the Cove Creek High School, circa 1930. Image from the W. W. Mast Family Collection, Digital Watauga Project.

Our images in this exhibition have been carefully curated by Ellie McCorkle, Sai Estep, Jennifer Woods, and Kristin Grau and cover the period from the 1890s to the 1990s. They feature everything from camels to elephants, bunnies to bovines, dogs gone fishing and driving, armfuls of cats, a gumdrop-eating goat, a well-behaved fox on a leash, and even a handshaking bear. There’s also a fair amount of wildlife mixed in, including a bat, our ever-ubiquitous local deer, and some waterfowl. Locals of all ages will be delighted by the variety.

Established in 2014, the Digital Watauga Project is a collaborative effort between the Watauga County Historical Society and the Watauga County Public Library to preserve and display the High Country’s archival memory. By serving as a digital clearinghouse of Watauga County’s history, the DWP encourages the citizens of Watauga County to make our history more accessible to the general public while also allowing the owners of historical materials digitized through the DWP to retain ownership and control over their original images, documents, and artifacts. Public viewing access to the digitized images on Digital Watauga is always free.

To learn more about Digital Watauga and see some of the 75 collections and nearly 15,000 items that have been digitized thus far, visit http://DigitalWatauga.org. If you have questions about this event or the project in general, or if you have a collection you’d like to share with the project, please contact Eric Plaag at DigitalWatauga@gmail.com.

Courtesy of Digital Watauga.