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Photo collection documents history of area



When future generations of researchers want to see what Jacksonville looked like in the early ‘70s, they may get the best picture by browsing through the more than 50,000 images by award-winning photographer Lawrence V. Smith recently donated to UNF’s Thomas G. Carpenter Library.


The collection includes everything from the gritty to the glamorous. Container ships at JaxPort share space in the collection iwith dramatic sunrises over the downtown skyline.


The library collection is a small part of the more than 500,000 images collected by Smith during his wide-ranging career. Smith died in Jacksonville in August of congestive heart failure after a long illness. He was 78.


Playing a key role in going through the collection was his wife, Linda Smith, a librarian and charter UNF faculty member who recently retired. “Larry and I discussed this donation for a long time and he was very enthusiastic about the gift. Fortunately, he was still at home when I sorted through the images and that made the job a lot easier," she said. "Larry helped me focus on those images most reflective of his work in Jacksonville."


Smith’s incredibly varied career took him from the steaming jungles of Vietnam to the numbing cold of the Arctic. Over nearly a half-century, he amassed numerous awards, including four Emmy Awards. The photos and films he created tell the story of some of the era’s most turbulent events, including revolutions and wars.   He documented Fidel Castro as he overthrew the Batista regime in 1959 and served as a camera correspondent for ABC-TV during the early stages of the Vietnam War in 1965.  As the director of photography for “Wild Kingdom,” Smith traveled from the Arctic Circle to South America to film animals in their native habitats. The “Wild Kingdom” efforts won him two Emmy Awards to add to two earlier awards for his Cuban revolution coverage and Vietnam work.


Eileen Brady, head of the Carpenter Library’s Special Collections and University Archives, said Smith’s photo collection will be available to researchers as soon as all pieces are fully cataloged.