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Alumna identifies people in photo archives

Alumna identifies people in photo archives

Identifying Individuals in Photographs

When Joan (Edwards) Williams and her son Matt were browsing Historic Boise State, a collection of archived photos, they noticed a lot of names missing from the photos. Joan went to Boise Junior College (BJC) from 1949 to 1951, participated in the Valkyries, Associated Women Students, and was a Cheerleader.

1950 Cheerleaders

1950 Cheerleaders: Virginia Oliason, Jerry Hill, Joan Edwards, and Don Urry.

photo of Earl Williams and Head Football Coach Lyle Smith.

Earl Williams (left) with Head Football Coach Lyle Smith.

She also met football player Earl Williams at a BJC Dance. They later married and had three children.

This week, Joan and her son Matt visited Special Collections and Archives in the Albertsons Library to sift through hundreds of photographs. Archives staff pulled photos that were generally known to be from her time at BJC. Many of these photos had no dates or names associated with them, simply filed under generic folders like “Dances 1940s-1960s” or “Student Organizations 1950s.”

After an hour, she had helped identify dozens of people and pin down exact years for 35 photos. These photos would otherwise remain mysteries to the archivists at Albertsons Library. They will now by scanned and published online.

Digital Archivist Jim Duran said, “We are very grateful for Joan and Matt’s visit to the Archives. It’s a rare treat to speak with someone that experienced Boise State history. It makes these photos come to life.”

If you would like to help the Archives with names or dates of historical photos, schedule a meeting with them by calling 208-426-3990, or email You can also add comments to photos in Historic Boise State.

Matt and Joan Williams

Matt and Joan Williams

Jim Duran,
Special Collections and Archives

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