Preservation and Access: Preservation Assistance Grants

Period of Performance

1/1/2018 - 6/30/2019

Funding Totals

$5,130.00 (approved)
$5,130.00 (awarded)

Margaret Bourke-White Photomurals Preservation Assessment

FAIN: PG-258295-18

Bradshaw H. Grady Library (Valley, AL 36854-3212)
Robin Brown (Project Director: April 2017 to August 2019)

A preservation assessment of six photomurals produced by documentary photographer and illustrator Margaret Bourke-White from images taken in 1936 of the West Point Manufacturing Company, headquartered in West Point, Georgia. These 4’ x 8’ murals depict life and work in the factories and villages of a company that encompassed five individual textile mills in eastern Alabama. The project would also include a workshop, led by a preservation specialist, on the care and handling of photographs, open to archivists and other cultural heritage professionals in the region.

In 1936, Margaret Bourke-White was commissioned by the West Point Manufacturing Company, a leading textile manufacturer in the South, to photograph operations at its five mills in Chambers County, Alabama. Already a preeminent photographer and the first female photojournalist with Life magazine, Bourke-White spent two days photographing the interaction of people and machines at the textile mills. From this visit, the company ordered six large photomurals to decorate its new sales room which doubled as its textile research center. Textile manufacturing built, sustained, and defined communities in Chambers County for over 100 years until the industry’s decline in the 1990s. The photomurals preserve a vanishing textile heritage. Cobb Memorial Archives received the photomurals in 2015, after they had sustained damage. With the expertise of an experienced conservator, the Archives will develop a plan to properly store, preserve, and display these visual links to the area’s past.

Media Coverage

Cobb Memorial Archives Receives NEH Grant (Media Coverage)
Author(s): Robin Brown
Publication: Valley Times-News
Date: 12/19/2017
Abstract: A press release about Cobb Memorial Archives receiving an NEH grant to have a conservator assess six Margaret Bourke-White photomurals in its collection appeared in the Valley Times-News on December 19, 2017.

Historic photos getting examined (Media Coverage)
Author(s): Wayne Clark
Publication: Valley Times-News
Date: 4/13/2018
Abstract: The local newspaper covered the NEH-funded visit of Monique Fischer of the NEDCC to assess six photomurals in the collections of Cobb Memorial Archives. Monique Fischer began examining the photomurals during the morning of April 12th and then conducted a photograph care and handling workshop that afternoon at the H. Grady Bradshaw Library and Cobb Memorial Archives.
URL: http://

A Look at the Margaret Bourke-White Photos (Media Coverage)
Author(s): Robin Brown
Publication: Valley Times-News
Date: 4/21/2018
Abstract: As part of a monthly column that explores the archival collections of Cobb Memorial Archives, this article highlights the Margaret Bourke-White photomurals commissioned by the West Point Manufacturing Company. The article placed the photomurals in historical context and explained about the NEH grant which allowed the first preservation work on them in 80 years to begin.

Celebrating Our History (Media Coverage)
Author(s): Editorial Staff
Publication: Valley Times-News
Date: 4/17/2018
Abstract: This editorial commends the preservation work undertaken for the Margaret Bourke-White photomurals and briefly explains their historical value to the community. It also includes a brief mention of the preservation assessment to the photomurals which was made possible through the NEH.

Larger than Life: Margaret Bourke-White's Photomurals of the Chattahoochee Valley (Media Coverage)
Author(s): Robin Watson, Frances Osborn Robb
Publication: Alabama Heritage
Date: 4/1/2021
Abstract: Pioneering photographer Margaret Bourke-White visited East Alabama in 1936 and left behind six towering photomurals of its thriving textile industry.