For the Record
Hugh Morrison Jr. often took photographs "for the record." His studio was just a few hundred feet from the Shenandoah County Courthouse and the adjacent area known as Lawyer's Row. This location likely increased his requests for pictures of all kinds of records. These included legal documents, like birth and marriage certificates. Morrison also photographed military and genealogy records, correspondence, and legal and insurance evidence. In addition, he made copies of photographs. This service was popular because he could make multiple copies in a variety of sizes.

In addition to taking pictures of documents, Morrison also photographed people for the record. For example, he made photographs to serve as medical records. He wrote about this type of work in his journal on Sunday, October 29, 1933: "Came to studio at 10 a.m. made fire + photographed woman showing pronounced case of curvature of the spine for mechanical apparatus to be furnished by hospital. Woman about 25 years old." Morrison even provided the most poignant of records, one final image of a deceased loved one before she or he was laid to rest.

All these types of documentary work were an important part of Morrison's business and income. In the days before copy machines and scanners, he provided a needed and important community service. Today these images survive as a lasting record of the versatility of the photographic medium. They also testify to the important role a camera played as a useful and practical device.

In Morrison's time the camera was a common way to make copies of a photograph without the original negative.
Shenandoah County's Jail Record from November 1930 to March 1931.
Morrison's journal mentions taking pictures of wrecked cars for insurance purposes.
This Morrison photograph documents a medical condition on a woman's legs.
Morrison copied many marriage certificates, such as this one.

Generous exhibition underwriting provided by Shentel.  Online exhibition made possible by the Wise Foundation.
Presented by the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley in partnership with the Shenandoah County Historical Society.
Website design by Shenandoah Valley Productions LLC and Wood & Associates, Inc.