Images from University Libraries to be included in upcoming PBS documentary

Palmer images

Palmer images

BLACKSBURG, Va., Jan. 30, 2009 – Images from the Special Collections and Digital Library and Archives Departments at Virginia Tech's University Libraries will be featured during the documentary "The Polio Crusade," to air as part of the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) American Experience series on Feb. 2, 2009.

Part of the documentary is focused on the polio epidemic that occurred in Wytheville, Va., in 1950. Images from the Virginia Tech Library's Earl Palmer Collection were used to document the event. The Palmer Collection contains approximately 750 photos taken by Palmer from the 1940s through the 1970s, and depicts the landscape and culture of Appalachia. Many images from the collection can be accessed online from the Virginia Tech Imagebase.

The documentary will feature two photos from the Palmer Collection. The first image depicts two children playing in a stream. The second shows a librarian watching children cross a stream after leaving a bookmobile.

Born in 1905, Earl Palmer was a grocer and mayor of Cambria, Va. from 1954 to 1964, when it merged with Christiansburg. Palmer was also a prolific photographer, billing himself as the "Blue Ridge Mountains' Roamin' Camera Man," and had photographs published in “Life,” “National Geographic,” and the “Saturday Evening Post,” as well as other newspapers and magazines. Though based in southwestern Virginia, Palmer traveled through Tennessee, North Carolina, Kentucky, and West Virginia in search of subjects. He donated his collection to the University Libraries and Appalachian Studies Program in 1989. Palmer died at his home in 1996.

“The Polio Crusade” is an hour-long documentary that chronicles a decades-long crusade, fueled by the March of Dimes, and features a bitter battle between two scientists and the breakthrough of a forgotten woman researcher. It is based in part on David Oshinsky's Pulitzer-Prize winning book, “Polio: an American Story.” Find more information on the PBS website.

The Virginia Tech University Libraries were established in 1872 with 500 volumes. Today, the libraries' holdings include more than 2 million volumes, and provides access to a large collection of electronic databases and full-content journals, and is located in the Carol M. Newman Main Library, Art and Architecture, Veterinary Medicine, and the Northern Virginia Resource Service Center. The University Libraries is also a selective depository for federal documents and a member of the prestigious Association of Research Libraries. The University Libraries provide and promote access to information resources for the achievement of Virginia Tech's objectives in teaching, learning, research, creativity, and community service.