The Utah State Historical Records Advisory Board recently awarded the Moab Museum a grant to continue digitization of the Fran and Terby Barnes Photograph Archives. The project, which began in 2020 in partnership with the Special Collections Library at Southern Utah University, scanned over 20,000 images in 2020.
“The land here is changing so fast — it’s scary,” said Tara Beresh, the curatorial and collections manager at the Moab Museum in an interview with the Moab Sun News. “Barnes took pictures of all of these places in the early 1900s, so we have images of what it looked like before. That could be a potential argument for how we need to preserve this place and think about our impact.”
Photographer and writer Fran Barnes traveled extensively in the desert landscape surrounding Moab for forty years, compiling his work in 46 Canyon Country books about southeastern Utah with his wife, Terby Barnes. The series is still sold and used throughout southeastern Utah.
The couple were also actively involved in the Moab community. Fran Barnes served on the Grand County Travel Council and the Bureau of Land Management’s Advisory Board. Terby Barnes was a member of the Valley Voices Choir, contributed to the Canyon Legacy journal, served on the board of the Moab Museum and took over Canyon Country Publications after her husband’s passing in 2003.
Terby Barnes donated the couples’ photographs, slides and other materials to the Moab Museum before her death in 2008 so that the couples’ collection could “further the knowledge of the natural wonders in the Moab area.”
The Fran and Terby Barnes Photograph Archive features over 50,000 photographs in various formats taken from 1960 to 2008. Some photos are black and white negatives, some in color; the collection’s slides are both large and small format developed images. The archive also includes Barnes’ map collection and both published and unpublished works.