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Smoky Mountain Photos in UT’s Thompson Brothers Digital Collection

ThompsonBarThe UT Libraries’ Thompson Brothers Digital Photograph Collection has been expanded to include several hundred more historic photos of the Great Smoky Mountains. The images in the Thompson Brothers Digital Photograph Collection are the work of Jim and Robin Thompson, prominent photographers in Knoxville, Tennessee in the 1920s through ’40s and pioneering photographers of the Smoky Mountains.

The Thompson Brothers collection of Smoky Mountain photographs ranks among the finest visual records of the mountains before the establishment of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in 1934. The photographs -– shot with a large-format camera and showing amazing detail — include sweeping vistas and candid shots that document the local culture and economy before creation of the Park. Jim Thompson’s spectacular photographs of the mountains played a critical role in convincing the U.S. Congress to make the Smokies the site of the first national park east of the Mississippi.

The collection includes hundreds of individual images of the Smokies garnered from UT Libraries’ Special Collections and from the Calvin H. McClung Historical Collection of the Knox County Public Library, as well as Thompson photographs found in albums held by the Arnold Arboretum Horticultural Library Archives of Harvard University and Tutt Special Collections at Colorado College. The UT Libraries’ Great Smoky Mountains Regional Project and Digital Library Initiatives spent more than three years gathering, digitizing, and creating records for the Thompson photos.

The Thompson Brothers Digital Photograph Collection is one of the UT Libraries’ growing number of image collections documenting the history and culture of the Smoky Mountains. UT’s digital collections are accessible at


For further information, contact Anne Bridges (974-0017) or Ken Wise (974-2359).

Read more about the Thompson brothers and their work in the 2008-2009 Library Development Review.

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