A new exhibit, “W. L. Clement: Reformer, Educator, Photographer,” opened recently at the Heritage Center of Murfreesboro and Rutherford County.
Developed by Savannah Grandey, a graduate research assistant at the MTSU Center for Historic Preservation as part of her graduate training, the exhibit explores the history and significance of the Soil Conservation Service — now the Natural Resource Conservation Service — in Cannon County during the mid-20th century.
The photos in the exhibit belong to a much larger collection, the majority of which were taken by W. L. Clement, Cannon County’s soil conservationist from 1951 to 1974.
Much like other employees of New Deal agencies, county soil conservationists were instructed to photograph the activity of their respective soil conservation districts, documenting federally encouraged land reform, education, and rural progress. The photographs served to popularize federal intervention and shape the American public’s definition of conservation.
Fulfilling his role as Cannon County’s soil conservationist, W.L. Clement created a record of evolving landscapes, agricultural innovations, and local tradition. A booklet, featuring additional photographs and essays by Grandey, Evan Hatch, formerly of the Arts Center of Cannon County, and State Historian Dr. Carroll Van West, is also available at the Heritage Center. The exhibit was previously displayed at the Arts Center of Cannon County.
The exhibit was funded by the Center for Historic Preservation at Middle Tennessee State University in cooperation with Evan Hatch of the Arts Center of Cannon County and MTSU’s James Walker Library. The exhibit will be on view at the Heritage Center for the summer.
The Heritage Center of Murfreesboro and Rutherford County is open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 3-p.m.. The Heritage Center is located at 225 W. College St. in Murfreesboro. For more information call (615) 217-8013 or visit http://www.hcmrc.org.