Thursday, August 30, 2012

Upcoming Exhibit at the Jeffcoat Museum to Focus on the Studio's History

The Jeffcoat Photography Studio Museum in Abilene, Kansas is proud to announce a new exhibition highlighting the history of three generations of photographers in the Jeffcoat Studio family business.

Before the turn of the twentieth century, Lucy Fritz Jeffcoat trained herself in camera operation and retouching photographs.  She quickly found work for several photographers in the Abilene area.  Lucy was also the mother of four children, so she did most of her photographic work from her home.  Her son, Paul, became interested in the photographic process at a young age.  He began delivering his mother’s retouched photographs and was fascinated with the developing process.

Paul went into business as the Jeffcoat Photography Studio in 1921.  At the time, the studio was located in a small second story room in downtown Abilene.  The business soon outgrew this space, and Paul built a new building for the business in 1925.  This building still stands today, and is the current home of the Jeffcoat Photography Studio Museum.

Paul saw his business through the Great Depression, and was able to supplement his income by partitioning his building and renting half of his property to other area businesses.  Over the years, the north side of the building would be occupied by an optometrist, an insurance agency, and a shoe repairman.  The sound of pounding hammers repairing shoes could be a bit distracting during portrait sessions, but having these businesses next door helped the Jeffcoat Studio immensely. 

Paul passed the trade of photography down to his son, Bill.  Throughout his life, Bill was interested in documenting life and events in his hometown of Abilene.  Bill photographed several parades, visits from President Eisenhower, and of course, family portraits.  He enjoyed photography outside of his professional work, walking around Abilene and snapping pictures of anything that caught his eye.  His father, Paul, saw this differently.  He once told his son not to take photographs unless he could make an income from the image.  Bill would continue taking snapshots, choosing to develop his film at night to keep it a secret from his father.

Though the Jeffcoat Studio was primarily a portrait studio, the Jeffcoats were able to document the history of the Abilene area, creating images that will last several years to come.  The Jeffcoat Photography Studio Museum’s newest exhibit, The Family Behind the Lens: A Retrospective of the Jeffcoat Studio, begins on September 1 and runs through November 20.

You can learn more about the history of the Jeffcoat Studio and the history of Abilene by visiting the Jeffcoat Photography Studio Museum at 321 N. Broadway Street in Abilene.  For hours of operation or to schedule a private viewing, contact the museum at (785) 263-9882 or  Be sure to visit the museum’s website at and their Facebook page at

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Announcing Our Museums' Fall Hours

Beginning on September 3rd, the Dickinson County Historical Society has returned to our fall /winter hours from Labor Day to Memorial Day.  The Dickinson County Heritage Center will open from 9 am to 3 pm Monday through Friday, 10 am to 5 pm on Saturday, and 1 pm to 5 pm on Sunday.

The Jeffcoat Photography Studio Museum has also changed to its fall hours which are Monday and Tuesday 9 am to 4 pm or by appointment.

The public is invited to visit the Dickinson County Heritage Center, ride the carousel, and experience over 150 years of Dickinson County history.

Be sure to mark your calendar for the Chisholm Trail Day Festival, held on Saturday, October 6th, as well.

For more information on the Dickinson County Historical Society or on these events, contact 785.263.2681 or stop by our museum at 412 S. Campbell.  Become a part of the Society and help preserve our heritage.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Historical Bicycle Tour Coming Up in Abilene

The Dickinson County Historical Society will once again be conducting a historical bicycle tour of downtown Abilene.  This tour benefits the Quality of Life Coalition, and will be held on August 24, 2012 at 7:00pm.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

A Busy Summer for the Dickinson County Historical Society

The Dickinson County Historical Society has certainly had a busy time this summer.  Every summer, we try to offer our visitors and members a variety of educational and fun programs.

We kicked off June with our annual youth day camp, Pioneer Camp.  This proved to be a fantastic two weeks, involving many young kids in history in a real life way.  If you would like to see photos showing some of the activities these kids do, be sure to check out our Facebook page.

The Jeffcoat Photography Studio Museum continued their Abilene in the Fifties exhibit throughout the summer, showing visitors views of the 1951 flood, President Eisenhower's visits to his hometown, and several other interesting views of the 1950s.

Our Memories of the Prairie lecture series was a great success this year, with several of our membership coming to our programs every Saturday.  This series culminated with our Annual Ice Cream Social and a public screening of our new short documentary film C.L. Brown and Kansas Independent Telephony.  If you are interested in showing this film at a local club meeting or in the school classroom, please let us know.  We would love to share this film with as many people as possible.

Overall, it was a fantastic summer for the Dickinson County Historical Society.  We believe that sharing our county's history through public events is of paramount importance.  To help support future events from our society, we welcome donations to help keep our current programs running, and to allow for the creation of new and exciting programming.