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Funk gets national grant to archive his photos

"Former Whidbey News-Times editor Wallie Funk is about to get some help to sort out the thousands and thousands of photographs he has taken and collected in a lifetime as a newspaperman.Over the years, Funk's collection has grown to more than 14,500 photographs and 150,000 negatives that trace the history of his two home islands, Fidalgo and Whidbey. Now Funk, with the help of the Anacortes Museum, has received a $1,500 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities which will be used to pay a photo archivist to assess his collection. The archivist will help to identify the pictures with the most historical value, will make recommendations on how to archive the pictures safely, and will make suggestions on how the collection should be organized, Funk said Monday. When the grant was announced, I was surprised and delighted, Funk said. I have always wanted very strongly to preserve history. Organization is the big thing, said Gary Cline, interim director of the Anacortes Museum. We need to categorize the pictures so that people can retrieve them when they need them. It will be quite a job to reference and cross-reference them, but it is quite a valuable record.Once the collection is organized, it will be housed at the museum. Funk's collection includes a large number of photographs taken by Anacortes photographer Ferd Brady, whom Funk describes as a recording machine, who covered the development of Anacortes from 1926 to 1952. He also gathered a large number of historic pictures during his time as editor of the Anacortes American.Another important part of the collection is some 5,000 pictures he took during his 25 years in Oak Harbor as owner-editor of the News-Times. Funk would like to see that part of his collection go to the Island County Historical Museum in Coupeville. He hasn't yet discussed the matter with the Island County Historical Society, but he hopes the society will be interested in preserving the Whidbey pictures. It will provide some photographic continuity, he said. Everything didn't happen in the 1870s. When I have put up exhibits over here that run from the mid-1920s up to 1965, they have drawn large crowds. People recognize aunts and uncles, they see themselves.Some of Brady's pictures also hold special interest for Whidbey Islanders, Funk said. Brady took many photographs of the construction of the Deception Pass Bridge, and many North Whidbey Islanders went to him for portraits.At the moment, Funk said, his collection of photographs are kept in two offices, one at home and one in downtown Anacortes. The Anacortes Museum has some, and he drives around with his car full of pictures, too. I am going to have to hire somebody to come and work with me to get the pictures organized, Funk said. He plans to divide the photographs into three groups, which will go to museums in Anacortes, the Skagit County Historical Society Museum in La Conner and the Island County Historical Museum. The first leg of the project is getting the Anacortes collection in order. The Anacortes Museum has plans for additional fund-raising to pay for hiring an intern to organize and archive the photos according to the archivist's recommendations. "

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