Image of William Derris at the Motel with Dog, Red Bud, 1954

William Derris at the motel with dog, Red Bud, 1954.

William Derris, avid amateur photographer and proprietor of the Derris Motel in Townsend, Tennessee, crisscrossed the Great Smoky Mountains by automobile, photographing the iconic locales. His images document seasonal landscapes, flora, wildlife, and the mountain people in Cades Cove, Wears Valley, Clingmans Dome, Little Greenbrier, Fontana, Chimney Tops and other scenery in the Smokies from the mid-1940s to the late 1960s. Using these images, Derris created slide shows for the entertainment of his motel’s numerous guests.

The William Derris Slide Collection (MS. 2123), totaling 4400 Kodachrome slide images, was donated to the University of Tennessee Special Collections. Approximately 340 slides have been chosen for inclusion in this digital collection. Click here for Finding Aid.

Note on Technical Information

Derris noted a variety of information on the slide mounts including where the picture was taken and the names of people featured in the slides. He also documented the camera exposure settings for many of the images. In general, he represents the exposure in the following format: f-stop @ shutter speed followed by focus setting. For example, 45@25 inf. indicates an f-stop of 4.5, shutter speed of 1/25 of a second and focus set on infinity. While Derris recorded these numbers without including the decimal, the numbers should be interpreted as having a decimal. He does not include the /1 over the shutter setting, likely because of space limitations. Additional exposure information is not always clear but usually indicates whether a filter (especially a polarizing filter) or flash was used.