Tuesday, July 2, 2013
Louisville's Visual Past As Seen Through the Lenses of Caufield & Shook
Distilleries and distillers are just one part of Louisville's heritage preserved for all time by the photographers at Caufield and Shook.
From the advent of photography in the 19th century, most cities of any size had commercial photography firms. That's not unusual. What's unusual about Caufield and Shook is that, for the first half of the 20th century, they were the preferred commercial photographers for Louisville's establishment, they were very good, and their well-preserved 500,000-image archive was eventually donated to the University of Louisville. It has long been an invaluable resource for anyone preparing any kind of book or presentation about Louisville's history.
The image above is from 1936. It shows an automobile plastered with advertising for Louisville bourbon distiller Brown-Forman. Part of the distillery is in the background. At this time, the distillery was at the same location on Louisville's west side as the company headquarters, which are still there.
Caufield & Shook was founded in 1903 by James Caufield and Frank W. Shook, who later took in Will Bowers as partner and chief photographer. It ceased operations in 1978. Few aspects of life in Louisville escaped their lens.
Sally Van Winkle Campbell's excellent 1999 book, But Always Fine Bourbon, about the Stitzel-Weller Distillery and its owner, her grandfather Pappy Van Winkle, contains many fine Caufield & Shook images.