A wide range of images of Kansas City – and no few mysteries – lie in a major collection of photographs now in the hands of the Jackson County Historical Society.
The Historical Society, headquartered in Independence, is just now starting to sort through the estimated 500,000 to 1 million prints and negatives from the commercial photographer Chris Wilborn.
Within a couple years, the aim is to have them sorted and posted online.
The collection illustrates a century of history in Kansas City and other parts of the Midwest. It’s from Chris Wilborn, 62, of Overland Park. He followed his father, Clarence Lee Wilborn, in the commercial photography business.
“I kept everything,” he said. “My dad kept all the negatives he shot.”
The elder Wilborn started shooting photographs roughly around World War II. Chris started in 1970. The business has changed, and there’s less demand for that type of work. Wilborn says he’s semi-retired, shooting high school, military and family reunions.