WCHS Completes Kansas State Historical Records Advisory Board Grant

Spanish Peaks, Louis Palenske - 1928

Spanish Peaks, located on the Old Santa Fe Trail at Trinidad, Colorado was photographed by Louis Palenske while on a photographic excursion along the trail in 1928.

Greg Hoots, of the Wabaunsee County Historical Society has completed work on his grant project, Preserving Memories: Digitizing History, which digitizes over 400 photographs and manuscripts belonging to Alma photographer and businessman, Louis Palenske. The project funds the digitization work which includes the creation of high-resolution scans of photographs and manuscripts and the placement of the resulting images on the internet to facilitate public access to the items.

Louis Palenske in his McFarland Studio - 1914

Louis Palenske is seen here in his new photographic studio in McFarland, Kansas in 1914.

Palenske began his career as a photographer in 1880, opening a studio in Alma, Kansas that year. In 1887 Gus Meier began working as Palenske’s apprentice, and purchased the studio the next year. Palenske then began a 20-year career in banking in Alma, before returning to the photography trade in 1914. In the late 1920s, Palenske began a series of photographic excursions across the American West, including trips down the Santa Fe Trail, the Oregon and California Trails, an excursion to northern New Mexico and northern Arizona, a trip to southern Colorado, and two trips to the Badlands.

Hallgren Wedding - 1935

Members of the Palenske family wedding party pose for Gus Meier who uses Louis Palenske’s Korona Panoramic View Camera to create this 1935 view.

In addition to the digitization of the Palenske archives, the grant-funded project also funded the development of a new website for the Wabaunsee County Historical Society. Photographer and designer, Tom Parish designed the new website with content provided from the WCHS digital archives, supplied by Hoots. The new website’s address is www.wabaunseecomuseum.org.

The Louis Palenske archives, digitized in this project, will appear on the Kansas State Historical Society’s website, Kansasmemory.org.

Funding for the project was provided by the Kansas State Historical Records Board and administered by the National Historical Publications & Records Commission.

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