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Yesterday: Salisbury postcard photo taken long ago by woman trailblazer

Wayne Wrights, an accomplished local photographer, provided this postcard of the old Rowan County Courthouse/Community Building, which is today’s Rowan Museum at 202 N. Main St. Wrights found the postcard among those collected by his mother and father. He’s not sure when the photograph was taken, but the photographer is a story in herself. Bayard Wootten, who lived from 1875 to 1959, was a trailblazer for women photographers in the South. According to Jerry W. Cotten’s 1998 book on Wootten, “Light and Air,” she was an accomplished landscape and architectural photographer, illustrating several books in the 1930s. She counted the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill among her clients and depended on commercial photography to pay her bills. But Cotten says some of her “most notable images were the portraits she crafted of black and white Americans in the lower reaches of society, working people whom other photographers often ignored.” Some of her photographs are part of the N.C. Collection at the UNC Library. Wootten was born in New Bern and moved her photographic studio to Chapel Hill in 1928, where she worked until her retirement in 1954. She returned to New Bern and died five years later.

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