Lori Wear with the Kern County Museum stumbled upon old photographs of local World War I veterans while cleaning up the museums photograph collection.
“I was going through this collection and I realized that they weren’t really stored properly, to today’s standards” Wear said. “So I was going through and putting them into acid free sleeves and I realized there were a couple hundred people in this collection that haven’t been identified.”
It wasn’t until recently she realized how special these some of those photographs really were.
Fifteen of them, World War I soldiers.
Wear set to working trying to put a name with each face, reaching out to the public on Facebook.
“I posted some images on Kern County Of old and immediately got a response from Ken Hooper at Bakersfield High School in their archive academy,” Wear said.
Bakersfield High School history and archives teacher Ken Hooper believes if anyone can help, it’s his students.
“I know from being a teacher here at Bakersfield High School that there were 87 people from Kern County High School and faculty that served in World War One so we have alumni and faculty that served,” Hooper said. “So it makes sense that some of those picture may possibly be from Kern County High School. Being here at the Bakersfield High School archives we also have access to the old year books, 1905, 1908, 1910.”
Hooper offered his skilled student historian’s to help.
“I truly believe that they kids have owned the keys to the kingdom,” Hooper said. “They have the ability to do the research, they have the time to do the research, they have the yearbooks to do the research, they’ve got the computer skills to do the research. It’s just going to take a matter of matching faces from 1914 to 1918.”
Jared Reyes has been hard at work comparing everything from ear lobes to eyebrows — trying to help bring these soldiers the honor he says they deserve.
“I feel like it has meaning, you know,” Reyes said. “Bringing these soldiers home that actually did our county a very good service and they deserve to be recognized. I’m proud of what I’m doing.”
With the centennial commemoration of WWI approaching, Wear is hoping to identify the men before the museum’s World War I exhibit opens on May 24.
The photographs are posted on the museum’s Facebook page.
If you recognize any of the men call the museum at 437-3330.