Glass lantern slides illuminate food history

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Historic lantern slides will illustrate the story of food in Oregon from 1850 to 1940 in a program at Fort Vancouver Visitor Center tonight.

The 7 p.m. presentation at the Visitor Center, 1501 E. Evergreen Blvd., is free.

Author and culinary historian Heather Arndt Anderson and Oregon Historical Society archivist Matthew Cowan will present a collection of historic hand-colored glass lantern slides, using an original 1930s projector.

The topic reflects Fort Vancouver’s own agricultural history — the expansive farms, orchard and formal gardens, said Tracy Fortmann, superintendent at Fort Vancouver National Historic Site.

The lantern slide had its origins in 17th-century optical devices, which came to be known as magic lanterns, according to a National Park Service news release. By 1850, slides were beginning to be reproduced from negatives and sold commercially, mostly black-and-white images that were then hand-colored.

The Oregon Historical Society curates a large collection of lantern slides, documenting many aspects of the early history of the state.