Franklin is a small town located in Macon County of North Carolina. Nested in the Appalachian Mountains, the town is beautiful, surrounded by a seemingly endless view of mountains, waterfalls, and natural forests. Its residents can boast that they have a variety of things to be proud of, most of which is their diverse culture. What makes Franklin curious is the close interaction between Cherokee, African Americans, and whites. It not only leads to a unique commentary on culture, but also on race and how one is defined in Franklin, NC.


A view that shows part of Franklin, North Carolina’s main street.

Despite this, Franklin seems to have been overlooked in terms of historical analysis. The history itself is complex with many viewpoints and stories that need to be preserved not only for the future, but for the present. Unfortunately, it can be short-lived if it is not discovered and if it is not preserved safely. This holds true not only for stories passed down by the town’s families, but also for the photographs that these families possess. Even through tough times, several families in Franklin have managed to maintain a number of albums in order to preserve their memories and keep their bonds strong. These bonds form the foundation of what living in Franklin is all about.

Taking the time to get to know the community and its residents, allowed for a better understanding of how each story fit in Franklin, what stories were most important to the community, and which gaps in these stories needed to be filled. These stories and photographs form the bulk of what needed to be preserved. Unfortunately, many of these photographs were either unmarked or nearly faded to the point where identifying the subject of the photo was nearly impossible. Unknown photographs make up more than half of the photographs that were discovered in Franklin. This scenario emphasizes the importance of one’s name and identity because if one is not remembered, it is akin to not having lived a life at all. Not knowing who someone is and not remembering a name is something that occurs often during the course of humanities research. However, identifying someone only by the word “unknown” and their gender is a fate that no one deserves. These individuals have been memorialized in an exhibit called The Unknowns, in the hope that someone will be able to identify them.

Franklin Memories is a website that takes the scanned photographs from the photo collections of many families in Franklin, NC. Feel free to click on the images above to start exploring exhibits that include the amazing photographs that I discovered this summer. The photos are organized first by collections, then by exhibits. The collections consist of every family who is included in the overall digital collection. The exhibits include time periods and other aspects of Franklin’s history that should be emphasized.

I encourage you, the visitor, to contact me if you come across any unidentified photographs that you recognize or if you have photographs or information that you would also like to contribute!