A treasure trove of glass plate images was found in a storage room, netting over 500 pictures of life in our city in 1912. Most of the photos were taken by entrepreneurial out-of-town photographers, seeking to earn 35 cents from the businesses which were documented in the shoots.

The glass plates were castaways, abandoned for lack of sales. They were not labeled or in order, necessitating copious hours of research to match architectural elements with known buildings, scouring city directories to align office numbers with tenants and researching history through zooming in on the most minute of details to provide clues as to the identity of the subjects. The result provided a fascinating overview of commercial life at the start of the new century.

The Atlantic reports that 1.8 billion photos are uploaded every day, but I wonder about the historical intentionality from any of these shutterbugs. People take pictures of food and silliness, but who is documenting an overview of business as we know it today? Things we take for granted in our organizations – the people, the layout, the equipment, the norms – often fade into oblivion because they were too obvious to capture at the time. We memorialize our friends and family in photos, but allow organizational history to disappear, or, at best, be captured only on our phones and not in an archival way.

Today, instead of taking pictures just to post on Instagram, be intentional about capturing a snapshot of your organization for future generations. The ordinary will someday become fascinating.

A City at Work Dubuque 1912 – Tim Olson & Mike Gibson    

About the Author leadership dots by dr. beth triplett

I'm the chief connector at leadership dots where I serve as "the string" for individuals and organizations. Like stringing pearls together to make a necklace, "being the string" is an intentional way of thinking and behaving – making linkages between things that otherwise appear random or unconnected – whether that be supervising a staff, completing a dissertation or advancing a project in the workplace. I share daily leadership dots on my blog to provide examples of “the string” in action. I use the string philosophy through coaching, consulting and teaching to help others build capacity in themselves and their organizations. I craft analogies and metaphors that help people comprehend complex topics and understand their role in the system. My favorite work involves helping those new to supervision or newly promoted supervisors build confidence and learn the skills necessary to effectively lead their team.

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