Thru My Lens: The Photography of Bill Jeffcoat
September 7, 2004 – October 4, 2004
Bill Jeffcoat has been photographing the people and activities of Abilene and Kansas for more than fifty years. He represents the third Jeffcoat generation to do so. Lucy Fritz Jeffcoat (1871-1950) was the first member of the family to photographically document the history of Abilene and Dickinson County. Her son Paul H. Jeffcoat (1899-1976) opened a studio in downtown Abilene in 1921.
Bill (born 1925) started doing odd jobs in the studio for his father in 1938 and continues to “go to the office” every day.
Following graduation from high school, Bill attended Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio, where his interest in art was kindled. After exploring other job opportunities he returned to Abilene in 1948 to work full time at his father’s photographic studio.
His work centered on commercial photography, but he also photographed people, events, the land, and the community for his own self interest and expression. His non-commercial photographs were not highly thought of by his father who said, “If you cannot make a photo that will bring in cash, why bother to do it?”
Bill continued to document the community and the countryside after business hours and worked in the dark room well into the night to fulfill his interest in photography. A few years before his father died, he told Bill, “If you want to continue in the studio, you will have to buy it from me. Nobody ever handed me anything on a silver platter.” Bill purchased the business.
The Jeffcoat family photographs are significant historical records of Abilene and Dickinson County. Bill’s photographs show his interest in photography as an art form.