Queens County, a History in Pictures by Kathleen Stitt, Linda Rafuse and Vernon Oickle
1. What inspired you to do the book about Queens County?
LINDA: Since 1929, the Queens County Historical Society has built a massive and unique collection of images, in various platforms, of our county and its people, from the inception of photography to present day. This has been through generous donations from private individuals, historians and local photographers. Now, in this digital age, we are given the opportunity to share a selected number of images from this valuable historical collection with our locals and their families, far and wide. Knowing how much people love to look at the "old photos" was all it took for inspiration for this book.
KATHY: The Queens County Museum has an amazing photographic collection. Our community over the years has been very generous donating many photographs, glass plate negatives, slides, postcards and negatives. These images tell our stories in our communities.
2. Why should people care about their history?
LINDA: I think at some point in every person's life, one wonders "where they came from" and no question, history provides that answer. It makes us aware of who we are today as a society and how the society we live in came to be. It gives us an understanding of our world both past and present. It's our legacy and continues to give us the strong foundation that we will add our own building blocks of history for future generations.
KATHY: These stories are important reminders of where we have been and our great resilience as a people. We had to adapt to our ever-changing world. Stories are important to share within our communities to give us a sense of pride and belonging. To newcomers to our area, these images provide context to the people of their neighbourhood. They are our collective memory.
3. This is your first book. What was it like to work on the project?
LINDA: It was an absolute pleasure for Kathy and I to work with Vernon on this project, working with the museum collection. It was a learning experience and we thank Vernon for teaching us all the processes and timelines involved in the making of a successful book from start to finish. What was the challenging part, you ask? To select from hundreds of photographs. Aside from that, this project was very gratifying.
KATHY: Queens County: A History in Pictures is my first book as author and researcher. The experience has been rewarding and challenging. Learning the creative process of "making a book" is much more complex than I ever expected. The hard decisions of who, what, where, when and why was made easier by working as a team. I wish to thank my fellow team members Vernon and Linda for the unselfish sharing of their respective wisdom and knowledge on our journey to publication. I would like to also thank Macintyre Purcell Publishing for their untiring support and patience. Their dedicated team has been with us every step of the way.
4. What would you like people to take away from your book?
LINDA: I would ask them to remember those first historians, the people who preserved this history and these images. Those early compilers, who put it all together for us, so that today we can continue their work for them. The professional photographers whose passion provided the visual for our history. Thanks to them the value of these historical images will always remain invaluable.
KATHY: I would like the reader to take away two things from this book. First, an increased respect of our communities and people. More importantly, I hope people take away the appreciation of the treasures they hold in their personal image collections. That box of old pictures in the basement. I understand that, at this moment in time, they may appear to have no value. I would like the reader to go into that box, look at those images, embrace those memories and preserve them for the future. Always remember, for future generations, those images will hold the same fascination for them as these images hold for us today. Go, build a glorious future on a solid understanding of your past.
5. Who was the greatest influence in your life?
LINDA: It was a privilege to grow up in a family with parents and grandparents that had a love for history and old photographs. They believed in handing down the old stories of family and communities. They often spoke of the importance of sharing the old photographs, knowing our families, our ancestors and where we came from. It started at a very young age and has never stopped.
KATHY: I believe the newfangled term is influencers. Who are mine? Both of my parents provided great inspiration to me. Their sense of community and a need to do good work was instilled in me at an early age. My father, Bill, showed me that creativity is a process that comes from study and hard work, My mother, Beverly, instilled in me that sharing your talent with others is not a burden or duty, it is a joy and privilege.