The following information and photograph was kindly provided by the Geneva History Center.

“Beginning July 23, 2011, the Geneva History Center museum will host Who Was Sadie Cooksey?, a photographic traveling exhibition developed by Maine photographer Maggie Foskett. The genesis of this exhibition reaches back to 1979, when Foskett stumbled onto an isolated cemetery on the former grounds of the Illinois State Training School for Delinquent Girls in Geneva. The “Girl’s School,” as it is known by locals, was located south of the railroad tracks on Route 25, where the Fox Run subdivision is today.

“The exhibition’s narrative concentrates on a single figure – Sadie Cooksey (1904-1924) – whose tombstone caught the photographer’s attention. Foskett explains that the exhibition’s title, Who Was Sadie Cooksey?, is a question with no answer. Sadie was one of hundreds of girls committed year after year for immorality or incorrigibility. The dates on her tombstone are all we know of her. Nevertheless, intensive historical research on Foskett’s part allows her to share with her audience a likely semblance of what Cooksey’s life was like on the school’s self-sufficient state run farm during the early years from 1894 to 1930.

“Foskett is celebrated for her cliché verre magnified and colorful photographic impressions of natural life taken without a camera or film. However, she changes course with this exhibition to present a documentary construction of adapted photographs from the Geneva History Center archives. She also includes original photographs of headstones from the Girl’s School cemetery developed in her signature X-ray style. The headstone photographs are incorporated into three-dimensional multimedia installations that reflect the environment of her memorable day photographing the cemetery in 1979. Although Foskett photographed many headstones in the cemetery choked with weeds and fallen branches on a gray afternoon thirty two years ago, it was not until 2002 that she developed the negatives and subsequently, the exhibition. Who Was Sadie Cooksey? was exhibited at the University of Maine at Presque Isle Reed Art Gallery in 2005 and at the Center for Maine Contemporary Art in 2004.”

from Maggie Foskett's exhibition 'Who was Sadie Cooksey' courtesy of Maggie Foskett via Geneva History Center