Natchez Yesterdays

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Gandy has been whittling away at this monumental task for eighteen years now. With the aid of a local friend, Howard Peabody—who got interested when one of the first pictures Dr. Gandy examined showed the Peabodys’ ancestral home he mastered the art of printing from fragile glass plates and brittle nitrate film.

The Gandys began sorting the almost thirteen thousand numbered portrait negatives which could be matched up with the Normans’ appointment books, then moved on to the thousands more that had never been catalogued. Joan Gandy enlisted the aid of elderly Natchez residents to help make identifications. The Natchez Democrat helped, too, running a Norman picture every week; clues came in from as far away as New York.

The Gandys’ job is not finished yet. “There are still many boxes I just haven’t opened up,” says Dr. Gandy, “but we hope to have at least looked at all the negatives within the next six months.” A second book is already in the works—a volume of Norman’s beautiful portraits of children.