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UNT Insider | August 2011 issue | Nationally significant photography collection chronicling Detroit, Jack Daniel's history gifted to UNT

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Nationally significant photography collection chronicling Detroit, Jack Daniel's history gifted to UNT

From a UNT News Service press release


From left, Charlotte Hancock, Junebug Clark, Art Hancock

From left: Charlotte Hancock, Junebug Clark, Art Hancock

Joe and Junebug Clark's photography is a seminal work of visual storytelling, representing one of the most extensive family archives from the golden age of American photography. The Clarks' work has been featured in Life magazine, National Geographic, Look and Newsweek.

Thanks to the generosity of Junebug and Kay Clark and Art and Charlotte Hancock, UNT will receive the complete family collection, including the work of both Joe and Junebug Clark, who began working as a professional photographer for The Detroit News at age 5.

In mid-July, Junebug Clark, Joe's son, and the Hancocks announced with UNT President V. Lane Rawlins that the Clark photography collection, which includes well over 2 million photographs, would come to UNT as part of the 7th annual Mayborn Literary Nonfiction Conference held July 22-24. The conference is nationally recognized for honoring the craft of narrative storytelling. 

"A Joe Clark photograph is worth at least the proverbial 'thousand words.' The stories they tell are rich and complete," President Rawlins says. "It is the mission of UNT's Mayborn School of Journalism to preserve the art of storytelling in all of its forms. This generous and important donation will allow students everywhere to learn from these images through our digital archives and global classroom initiatives."

The collection chronicles the emergence of Detroit as the auto capital of the world, contains endless pictures of historical, famous figures, and captures the history of Jack Daniel's whiskey.

The Clarks were the photographers for the iconic Jack Daniel's Distillery advertising campaign that powered the brand from a $17 million company to a multi-billion dollar brand that is the No. 1 selling whiskey in the world. Beginning in 1956, the Clarks' black and white images chronicled the life of Lynchburg, Tenn., for 38 years and were featured in advertising worldwide.

UNT will curate, digitize and archive the collection for educational purposes. The collection contains millions of items including film, prints and advertisements. A long-term goal and the hope of the donors is that UNT will establish a permanent exhibit in Lynchburg, Tenn., and develop partnerships across the nation for using the images to teach students in many disciplines.  

"Charlotte and I are absolutely delighted that we and Joe Clark's family have been able to put together this wonderful addition to the university, and we look forward to seeing the results of this in the years to come," Art Hancock says.  "Joe Clark, the Hillbilly Snapshooter, played an extremely important part in my life, in the life of my wife, and in the success of the Jack Daniel's Distillery. The reason we are so delighted with this partnership with Joe's son, Junebug, and with UNT, is that we are honoring this gentleman, Joe Clark, as he should be honored -- as one of the foremost photographers in the United States, and one of the finest storytellers that I ever had the pleasure to know and work with."

Art and Charlotte Hancock are longtime residents of Nashville, Tenn. A retired executive vice president of Jack Daniel's Distillery and its parent company Brown-Forman, Art Hancock began working for Jack Daniel's in 1954 as the company's first advertising manager. He remained with the company, overseeing its marketing and advertising strategies, for nearly four decades.

Joe Clark HBSS began his photography career in the later years of the Great Depression, and worked until the last decade of the 20th century. Junebug Clark is a photographer with Cessna Aircraft Company. He and his wife Kay are residents of Wichita, Kan. Junebug got his first camera at age 3 and later joined his father in shooting photos for Jack Daniel's beginning at age 13.

"My dad believed in 'pictures that tell a story,' and I'm proud and privileged to follow in his footsteps and care for his life's work," Junebug Clark says. "His life's work will now be cared for and available to be explored and to inspire UNT and the Mayborn School of Journalism writers, photographers and visitors for years to come. On behalf of my father, my mother Bernice, my wife Kay, and the whole Clark family, I want to thank Art Hancock and the University of North Texas for housing and sharing this collection. It couldn't have fallen into better hands or found a better home."

UNT will receive a donation of $200,000 from Art Hancock, with $160,000 going toward the purchase of the Jack Daniel's portion of the photography collection. The remaining $40,000 will be used to appraise the entire photography collection, which now is estimated to be worth about $1.6 million. Junebug and Kay Clark will donate the remaining portion of the photography collection, which is about 12 times the size of the Jack Daniel's collection. Junebug Clark also will help curate the collection for digitizing so curriculum can be created.

Leslie Wimmer with UNT News Service can be reached at Leslie.Wimmer@unt.edu.

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August 2011

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