About the Tazewell County Public Library Photographs

Notes of Some Photographers
Tazewell County Public Library | Format of Originals | Search Tips

The collection of almost 3,900 Tazewell County photographs is richly representative of the life and history of the county and region. The photographs, that are housed in the Tazewell County Public Library, portray individuals and groups in studio portraits as well as in informal settings. There are also many images which depict the civic, agricultural, commercial, educational, recreational, and religious life of the community from the late nineteenth century through the 1960s. The earliest known image in the collection is a copy of a tintype, made in 1851, of James Moore who, as a young boy in 1784, was captured by the Shawnee and taken to Ohio. A few photographs are dated as late as the early 1990s.

There are photographs of individuals, couples, babies, children, families, military personnel, workers, homes, businesses, churches, cemeteries, schools, public buildings, street scenes, farms, industries, leisure activities, parades, and significant events.

The photographs originally appeared in a series of volumes published by the Tazewell County Historical Society between 1989 and 1998. The original impetus for the first volume was a monetary gift to the library for the purpose of collecting and preserving the photographs of A. M. Black, a noted photographer active in the Tazewell area between 1900 and 1915. Other photographs were either donated or loaned. This first volume was so successful that other volumes followed. The volumes published to date are:

Notes on Some Photographers

Albert Matson Black (1878-1958) was born in Greencastle, Indiana, to Columbus R. and Maggie Matson Black. In 1900 Black opened a portrait studio on Main Street in Tazewell. Black also had a well-patronized winter studio in West Palm Beach, Florida, called the Royal Poinciana Studio. He was particularly noted for family portraits and for the quality of his work and materials. In 1903, Black married Ida Venable Foster (1881-1963), daughter of Roland Foster of Cumberland County. Black worked only occasionally after 1915 because of a debilitating bone disease. After he became bedridden, Black supported himself and his wife with a magazine and newspaper subscription business. He was also very active in the Presbyterian Church. The Blacks lived on Lyons Avenue.

J. Roy Rector was active in the 1960s and photographed over 40 old log cabins and stone structures in the Tazewell County area. Many of these examples of primitive architecture are no longer standing.

John Cecil Fisher (1943-1992), a well-known Tazewell photographer, has often been compared to A. M. Black.

Dr. W. F. Wadsworth, a former pastor of the Tazewell Presbyterian Church, was responsible for preserving and reprinting many old Tazewell photographs originally made on glass negatives. Dr. Wadsworth was instrumental in the establishment of the Tazewell County Public Library. He is now retired and lives in Knoxville, Tennessee. 

Format of Original Images

The collection consists of original and reprinted photographic prints, including prints made from glass negatives. There are also a few tintypes, postcards, and charcoal drawings. 

Tazewell County Public Library

For information about ordering copies of photographs in this collection, please contact:

Reference Librarian
Tazewell County Public Library
PO Box 929
Tazewell, VA 24651

276-988-2541 (voice)
info@tcplweb.org (e-mail) 

Ordering Copies of the Published Albums

The below album may be ordered from:
Tazewell County Historical Society
P.O. Box 916
Tazewell, VA 24651
276-988-4069 (voice)

Search Tips

Punctuation and capitalization are disregarded. Entries in this database are arranged in letter-by-letter alphabetical order. In addition to the regular searches, you may click on any highlighted element of a database record (such as a title) to initiate a search on that element. 

Each record in the Tazewell County Photographs database consists of:


The names of photographers are recorded, if known.



Titles consist of brief descriptions of the photographs taken from the published captions.  The title usually includes the names, if known, of the people in the photographs.  Titles are keyword-searchable.

The title of the volume in which the photograph was published may also be searched.



The date the photograph was taken, if known, is recorded in the database record. Dates are keyword searchable.



Notes usually begin with the phrase: "Title continues ..." and consist of the rest of the published caption not used in the title. All of the information in the notes is keyword-searchable.

Examples of notes:

Type of Photograph  

The database may be searched by type of photograph or original format of the image.  These terms are keyword-searchable.

Examples include:

Image Numbers  

Image numbers were assigned to the photographs as they were cataloged using several naming conventions:

These numbers are visible in the MARC display only, and are keyword-searchable.

Examples: image numbers:

Subject Headings  

Note: Specific subject headings have not yet been assigned to most database records.  To search on the names of people in the photographs, search on the title (or a Basic keyword search using Words Anywhere), not the subject.

The following subject headings currently appear in all records and should not be searched:


Click on the URL at the top of the full record display to view the digitized image. 

For more detailed help with searching, click on the "Help" link on the main search screen and scroll down to "Search Functions" and "Search Tips."

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