William Derris Collection

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, videographer, and proprietor of the Derris Motel in Townsend, Tennessee, crisscrossed the Great Smoky Mountains by automobile, photographing and filming 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 Derris film clips are paired with newly recorded music appropriate to the Great Smoky Mountains.

The William Derris Slide Collection (MS. 2123), totaling 4400 Kodachrome slide images and eight reels of 8mm film, was donated to the University of Tennessee Special Collections. The digital collection is comprised of 334 slides and 14 film clips. Click here for Finding Aid.