Missouri Humanities Council Awards Funds to Southeast for Kent Library Photo-Documentary and Symposium


Photo of Kent Library

The photo-documentary that will consist of a series of 30 paired images of portraits of people and places in Cape Girardeau and will be hung in Kent Library.


March 20, 2007 – The Missouri Humanities Council (MHC) has awarded a $2,400 grant to Southeast Missouri State University to support a photo-documentary and symposium titled “Cape Girardeau: Then and Now” at Kent Library on the Southeast campus. 

The photo-documentary that will consist of a series of 30 paired images of portraits of people and places in Cape Girardeau and will be hung in Kent Library.  Each of the 30 sets of images will include one image dating from the late 19th century to the mid–1950s paired with a more recent image of the same locale or its equivalent. The pairing of the photographs will provide the viewer, the general adult public, an opportunity to understand the changes that have occurred throughout the city since the late 19th century, including how it has experienced changes in growth, changes in modes of transportation, various styles of architecture, buildings that no longer exist and the landscape of the city. 

The photographs being used are from local archives and personal collections; local photographer Tom Neumeyer has spent the past year re-photographing the scenes of Cape Girardeau to be paired with the older images. 

Along with the exhibit, Kent Library will host a symposium and book signing, tentatively scheduled for later next month, that will coincide with the opening of the exhibit and reception. 

Speakers at the symposium will be Dr. Frank Nickell, Tom Neumeyer and Dr. Lisa Speer. 

Nickell, professor of history at Southeast and director of the Center for Regional History, is directing the photo-documentary project. He has presented numerous lectures on southeast Missouri’s history. During the symposium for the exhibit, he will discuss the relevance of the project in relation to the city’s heritage.  Additionally, he will address the importance of learning from the past through the images presented.

Neumeyer, a native of Cape Girardeau, is a professional photographer and a graduate of Southeast. He is a co-author of the local history book, Historic Cape Girardeau: An Illustrated History, and produced his first photo-documentary on the rural elderly with cooperation from the Missouri Humanities Council. Neumeyer will discuss the process of his photo-documentary project, including its conception through its completion; and the questions the photographs will raise pertaining to historic preservation and its importance and relevance to the city of Cape Girardeau. 

Speer is an assistant professor and the Special Collections and Archives librarian at Southeast Missouri State University.  Speer received her master’s and doctoral degrees in American history at the University of Mississippi and her MLIS at the University of Alabama.  She has published articles in several journals including Provenance: Journal of the Society of Georgia Archivists, the Journal of American and Comparative Cultures, and Collection Building.  Speer will present the opening remarks at the symposium; some of the images being used for the upcoming exhibit have come from the Special Collections and Archives.

In conjunction with the exhibit, the project will be published by the Southeast Missouri State University Press as a photography book, Cape Girardeau: Then and Now under the direction of Nickell.  The book will include about 100 pairings of images as well as essays written by Cape Girardeau residents. A book signing will be incorporated into the opening exhibition. In addition, the exhibit will be made available online through the Virtual Missouri Web site; this will be available for public viewing at the time of the opening of the exhibit and book release. 

The MHC, which awarded the grant to support the project, is the only statewide agency in Missouri devoted exclusively to humanities education for citizens of all ages.  It has served as a state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities since 1971.

For more information on the photo-documentary and symposium, contact Nickell in the Center for Regional History at (573) 651-2833.

For more information about the grants program of the Missouri Humanities Council, call (314) 781-9660 or (800) 357-0909 or write to the MHC, 543 Hanley Industrial Court, Suite 205, St. Louis, MO 63144-1905.