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Old Photos Illuminate Raleigh People, Events

The rediscovery of old film and thousands of photographs taken by a local photographer is casting new light on Raleigh's history and people.

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RALEIGH, N.C. — The rediscovery of thousands of old photographs and film footage is helping Raleigh residents find long-lost relatives and see historical events.

Jay Denmark, the owner of Denmark Photography studios in Raleigh, recently opened a warehouse, in which he believed were stored negatives taken by his grandfather, Jim Denmark.

Jim took pictures of Raleigh people and landmarks between 1917 and 1965.

"I was thinking there was a couple boxes. When we got in there, come to find out there were probably 30 to 40 boxes from the floor to the ceiling," said Denmark.

Inside those boxes were more than 50,000 negatives, as well as some film.

"I love history. I love finding treasures. I knew we had something," said Denmark.

"Luckily, each negative had a name on it," but rather than try to track down each person, "we decided ... let them find us," said Denmark.

Denmark created a section on the web site of his studio, Denmark Photography Studio, on which visitors can search and preview photographs and film. Visitors can also print out photographs for a fee.

"My hope is that people will be able to find their ancestors and to further their research into genealogy and put pieces of the puzzle together with the help of these photos," said Denmark.

Along with helping people search for their ancestors, his grandfather's work "is an historical documentation of people that lived during that era," said Denmark.

The site also shows footage of events that Denmark's grandfather filmed, including the construction of the North Carolina State bell tower and Amelia Earhart's landing in Raleigh in 1936.

"My granddad was on the front row. He had the best seat in the house," said Denmark.

The significance of the discovery has not worn off on Denmark.

"It almost brings shivers to me when we're scanning these negatives and seeing these people. We know that they hadn't been seen in years," said Denmark.


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