The Thomas Sims Photo Archive is one of the world's largest collection of country music photos with tens of thousands of images of the legends of country music. The majority of the collection comes from the 1930s to the 1960s. It contains not only professional shots, but a massive amount of photos taken both on-stage and off stage on personal cameras by fans. These fans include managers, promoters, crew members, fan club presidents, everyday ticket holders and more. Thomas spent decades traveling the country buying the material from promoters, DJ’s, estates and fan club presidents.
While Thomas’ archive is rich in content, none of it was organized or easy to find. Most of the photos were literally in buried in boxes with books, paperwork, and other items having nothing to do with photos. Many of these photos are fan photos and most of them are unlabeled so we took meticulous care in researching and restoring each photo to the best of our abilities, using as many subtle clues as we could recognize to ascertain venues, people, locations, etc. Through this process we were fortunate to discover dozens of unseen photos of Hank Williams as well as many hundreds of other pioneers of early American music. Sadly, many of these photos contain people who may very well be forever lost to history, but our careful archiving process preserves the images nonetheless, and we can only hope that one day, some of these unknown people can identified.
We’re very happy to say that nearly 15,000 images have been scanned to date, making this archive one of the most significant archives of its kind. We take great pride in doing this and realize that this is a significant part of American music and history and needs to be preserved. Because of the insane volume of material it’s possible that there will be a few photos where Thomas does not have any rights and if we are made aware of that we will remove them immediately.
Top row: Elvis Presley (1955), George Jones (1958), Loretta Lynn (1961)
Bottom row: Patsy Cline (1958), Johnny Cash (1961), Hank Williams (1952)
all photos ©The Thomas Sims Archive