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My husband Brad Smith had told me about his father George Mann's days as a vaudeville headliner from the late '20s to early '40s with the comedic dance act Barto & Mann and the extraordinary photographs and 16mm film he had taken of well-known performers, backstage rehearsals, theater marquees, New York street scenes, and a great variety of other beautiful shots taken during his travels.  He also took thousands of 3-D slides in the '50's and '60s, mostly in Southern California, displayed in a device of his design in businesses around Los Angeles.

I was aware that somewhere in the basement was a collection of B&W negatives, color 3-D slides, and 16mm film that had not seen a light box, enlarger, slide viewer or projector for many, many years.  One time when Brad was away at a conference, curiosity got the better of me and I began searching the basement for something akin to a cigar box or maybe a shoe box.  I found a couple of much larger containers and 12,000 or so mostly 35mm negatives, thousands of 3-D slides, and three cases of 16mm film.  I spent the next two weeks poring over this incredible body of work, repacking each film strip into proper archival sleeves.  Being a commercial photographer by trade, it was easy to see, even in negative form, what was in front of me.

Some of this film goes back as far as the 1920s and much of it had not been cared for as well as it might have been.  Digitizing and retouching has been a big part of my job of managing the George Mann Archive.  What are the odds these photographs would be discovered by a photographer?  From the moment I laid eyes on the imagery it has been my goal to get George on the map as a significant American photographer.

                                                                                        ~ Dianne Woods