The wonderful world of amateur history adventuring
I've been collecting old photos of Phoenix since 1992, when I first rescued some old photos from being thrown in the dumpster, when Valley National Bank started the process of becoming Bank One, and I was helping my department (which was the Graphics area) make room for all of the new stuff. And believe me, that place really needed to be cleaned out! It was mostly junk that nobody had ever thought to throw away. I asked my manager's permission to take the old photos, which were mostly publicity photos from the '60s and '70s. And I stored them safely in my garage.
Nothing much happened until the internet came around, in the late '90s, and I started scanning in the photos to use to practice making web pages. By 2001, I had created a couple of web pages about Phoenix, using those photos, just for fun, but mostly to practice this new thing that I had to teach, HTML. Over the years I updated the pages with CSS, and then when Google+ was introduced in 2011, I created a "business page" there and started sharing the photos that way (using social media is whole lot easier than updating a web page!).
And then something happened, and I started having way too much fun. People were enjoying the photos, and helping me with the captions. And I discovered more photos, and more, and more! And I got hooked on building up a gigantic collection of digital images, which must be over 10,000 or more by now. They're all carefully filed, and backed up, and more importantly, thrown out into the cyber world, where I hope they will never be lost, never thrown in the trash. They're all public domain, so anyone can have them, use them, share them. You don't need my permission, or anything. If you're nervous about using them for commercial purposes, check with a good copyright lawyer, not me.
I started using the term "history adventuring" to describe what I was doing. Mostly it was in cyberspace, but sometimes I would go out into the "Real World" and look at stuff, like the Sahuaro Ranch, or Pueblo Grande. I started having regular adventures with other amateur historians, who seemed to be as fascinated with old Phoenix as I was, some even more so. I even started writing in this blog which I called History Adventuring, mostly about going to these places in my imagination. That's why I have this blog. Sometimes I just wonder what it would have been like living in Phoenix in the 1940s, or being a Pima Indian and seeing the newcomers in the 1860s.
I'm not a historian. I'm not working at a museum, or working on my PhD for history so I can teach it somewhere, or writing a book, I'm just having fun. And I'm having a LOT of fun. I love learning new stuff, and then sharing it. I'm glad you're here, and I hope you are having as much fun as me, thinking about what it would have been like drinking whiskey with Jack Swilling, or watching the Professional Building being built in 1931.
All of this costs me nothing but my time, and I do most of it in between freelance Graphic Design jobs (sometimes I have a LOT of free time!). I write my blog here (which is free from Google) and I post the photos on Facebook (which is also free). I pay fifteen dollars a year for the domain name of this blog, and I just printed up some business card with HistoryAdventuring.com on them so I can give to people if they want to find me in cyberspace. I know that a lot of times people are wondering why I'm doing this, and when I say for fun, I can tell sometimes that they're still wondering?
By the way, when I go history adventuring, I always take a "selfie" - although it's different from typical selfies. I stand in front of what I've come to see and have someone take a photo of me - waaaay back there. The photo at the top of this post is of the trees on the canal at 7th Street and Northern. If you look carefully, I'm back there, walking back in time. If you look carefully at the photo in the header of this blog, I'm at the top of the stairs at Historic City Hall, in downtown Phoenix. I get a big kick out of this!
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Posted by Brad Hall