©William Gedney / Duke University Rare Book, Manuscript, and Special Collections Library, Children and a dog walking on dirt road; two girls carrying books, 1972

 
 

Thank you to Duke University Rare Book, Manuscript, and Special Collections Library, http://library.duke.edu/digitalcollections/gedney/

William Gedney made two trips to eastern Kentucky. In the summer of 1964, he traveled to the Blue Diamond Mining Camp in Leatherwood, Kentucky and stayed for awhile at the home of Boyd Couch, head of the local United Mine Workers Union. Then Gedney met Willie Cornett, who was recently laid off from the mines, his wife Vivian, and their twelve children. He soon moved in with the Cornett family, staying with them for eleven days. Twenty-two of the photographs from Gedney's 1964 visit to Kentucky were included in his one-man exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York (December 1968 through March 1969). Gedney corresponded with the Cornetts over many years, and finally returned to Kentucky to visit and photograph the family again in 1972. In his notebooks Gedney writes about these lives he witnessed and photographed, the complicated relationships within such large families, the importance of the automobile. Gedney made notes about a creating a book dummy of the Kentucky work, but no completed dummy exists in the archive. With the exception of one image, the Kentucky photographs were never published during William Gedney's lifetime. 

 
 

©William Gedney / Duke University Rare Book, Manuscript, and Special Collections Library, Miscellaneous Writings pp.79-80

 
 

© William Gedney / Duke University Rare Book, Manuscript, and Special Collections Library,Three girls in kitchen, 1964

 
 

©William Gedney / Duke University Rare Book, Manuscript, and Special Collections Library, Miscellaneous Writings p. 88

 
 

©William Gedney / Duke University Rare Book, Manuscript, and Special Collections Library, Man walking toward house with many vehicles in varying states of repair in front, 1972

 
 

©William Gedney / Duke University Rare Book, Manuscript, and Special Collections Library, Two men talking through car windows on gravel road, 1972

 
 

©William Gedney / Duke University Rare Book, Manuscript, and Special Collections Library,Cornett family photographs laid out on a table, 1972

 
 

©William Gedney / Duke University Rare Book, Manuscript, and Special Collections Library,Vivian Cornett, 1964

 
 

©William Gedney / Duke University Rare Book, Manuscript, and Special Collections Library,Tomatoes and other vegetables on wood plank resting on chair outside

 
 

©William Gedney / Duke University Rare Book, Manuscript, and Special Collections Library, Two children lie on quilts and pillows between two beds, 1972

 
 

©William Gedney / Duke University Rare Book, Manuscript, and Special Collections Library,Porch of a house with laundry hung to dry, stringed beans hanging, and carton of empty Pepsi-Cola bottles, 1972

 
 

©William Gedney / Duke University Rare Book, Manuscript, and Special Collections Library, Willie Cornett firing rifle with boys looking on, 1972

 
 

© William Gedney / Duke University Rare Book, Manuscript, and Special Collections Library,Two Girls outside having fun, 1972

 
 

©William Gedney / Duke University Rare Book, Manuscript, and Special Collections Library,Boy (about age 10) near porch, with family members in background, 1972

 
 

©William Gedney / Duke University Rare Book, Manuscript, and Special Collections Library, Transcriptions and Notes, p.16

 
 

Kentucky

Junior and his girl Linda were hot to get married; they drove to Tennessee and landed in Sneedville where the only Justice of the Peace they could find was working all day at a gas station. So the Justice preformed the service there. It seems appropriate since so much of the thoughts and actions of the male Cornetts involves automobiles that one of their clan family should be married in a gas station.

Bill (age 11) writes a letter to his girl friend telling her he loves her and signs it: "Peace, War. Love."

Myrtle Ave.-2AM-Sept 1972

One of the amazing things about violence in the street is the quickness with which it is unleashed and [illegible], leaving quiet in its wake.

Two cops are questioning a small wirey black man in front of the Shaft bar. In the door way three or four other blacks mill, people are shouting at each other. Two men come towards the cops arguing. Accusations are thrown back and forth, the cops have their suspect next to the prowl car; he's in the middle, one cop on each side. As the men from the bar approach yelling at them.

 
 

©William Gedney / Duke University Rare Book, Manuscript, and Special Collections Library, Man lies his head asleep on woman's lap who is sitting on car seats which have been removed from a vehicle, 1972

 
 

©William Gedney / Duke University Rare Book, Manuscript, and Special Collections Library, Teenage boy (maybe fourteen years old) sitting in back seat of a car, with the door open; white t-shirt, hair over his eyes, 1972

 
 

©William Gedney / Duke University Rare Book, Manuscript, and Special Collections Library, Man in grass, 1972