Over the last seven months, Terry McManus has spent dozens of hours at Keeler Tavern Museum & History Center digitizing glass plate negatives that photographer Joseph Hartmann created of Ridgefield residents and the town during the early 20th century.

Each of the over 7,000 plates is scanned and uploaded to KTM&HC’s online collections database, allowing researchers and the general public greater access to these fragile and unique photos. Purchase of the digital scanner was made possible through funds raised at the 2018 Fairfield County Giving Day sponsored by Fairfield County's Community Foundation and Bank of America.

“As archivist for the Ridgefield Garden Club as well as a member of The Garden Club of America’s Archives Committee in Manhattan, I had already digitized several hundred glass lantern slides when Curator of Collections Erika Askin happened to tell me about the Hartmann digitization project,” said McManus. “I really love Ridgefield history, particularly the time period when photographers were creating these beautiful glass plates. I am so happy to be able to help with this important project and I thank Erika for giving me this opportunity.”

Joseph Hartmann, a German immigrant to Connecticut, took thousands of portraits of Ridgefield residents during his 50-year career in town. The Hartmann Collection, housed at KTM&HC, includes photographs of Ridgefield residents - young and old - as well as weddings, civic events, social groups, houses, street scenes, and more; it is a significant photographic representation of Ridgefield during the early 20th century.

“We are delighted to have Terry share her talents and time with us in such a meaningful way,” said Rhonda Hill, president of KTM&HC’s board of directors. “We rely on hundreds of volunteers to operate successfully. To have Terry digitize this important piece of Ridgefield’s past helps us fulfill our mission as a regional history center and steward of archival material.”