One of the discoveries during our August holidays in Finistère was the Le Doaré Archives, literally the patrimony of three generations of Chateaulin's Le Doaré family photographers. The current scion, Dominique (here at right, in front of some of his father's and grandfather's photos), presented over three hundred slides one evening to a hushed outdoor audience of Chateaulinois, all eager for a look at their town's past.
Three hundred slides, selected from a treasure trove of 80,000 to 100,000 photos, which represents a visual history of this unique part of France going back over one hundred years. Dominique Le Doaré invited the audience to identify some of the subjects of his forebears' photos, and admonished everyone to label photos in their own family collections, saying that their archival value is greatly diminished without dates or context.
No such worries for this iconic photo below of Jos Le Doaré, Dominique's father and founder of Editions Jos, a local institution that has now been sold to a publisher, but which continues to provide thousands of quality postcards to tourists wanting to mail home a souvenir to family and friends.
Here little Jos clicks the shutter on an early 20th-century camera, while posing for his father Jean-Marie, who established the dynasty in 1898. Jos, dressed in traditional Breton costume and sporting the then de rigueur below shoulder length tresses, was to grow up to continue in his father's footsteps, and to catch some historic moments, like the liberation of Chateaulin by Free French forces in August 1944 (which I wrote about last month).
Le Doaré Archives works with the University of Brest's Centre de Recherche Bretonne et Celtique (CRBC) in safeguarding this photographic heritage, recently in a collection of old sepia postcards.
Working out of a corner of the Editions Jos facility, Jacques Le Doaré scans his way through the thousands of negatives, slides, photographic plates, and postcards to build a digital record of a way of life that has long disappeared. For photography and history buffs alike, the Le Doaré brothers' work is vital in preserving what the rest of us often relegate to the shoe box. More power to them.