Editor’s note: The following biographical information was provided by the Rabold family:
Earl Rabold was born in Bowling Green, Kentucky, on Nov. 7, 1896. He was raised in the tradition of the various family businesses, and he was taught from a young age the importance of community involvement.
As a businessman, Rabold was most associated with Dave Rabold & Son Menswear, which he helped operate until his death on Dec. 14, 1976.
Rabold served in the United States Navy during World War I, and he was a lifelong member of the Presbyterian Church on State Street. He was a philanthropist and member of the Bowling Green Chapter of the Kiwanis Club for more than 52 years. His obituary was printed on the front page of the Bowling Green Daily News, which recognized him as one of Bowling Green’s most prominent “civic and business leader(s).”
Rabold, however, was much more than a public servant. As a child, Rabold owned one of the earliest cameras in Bowling Green. His childhood toy grew into a significant hobby as he aged, and Rabold is also credited with opening one of the earliest photo-developing businesses in Bowling Green.
During his teenage years, Rabold took and developed thousands of images, many of them in downtown Bowling Green, memorializing our town’s various people, buildings and events more than a century ago. His catalog of images is recognized as the most complete, integrated photographic record of “old Bowling Green” in existence today.
Remarkably, Rabold rarely discussed his hobby as a young man or the photographic catalog he created. As a result – for nearly a century —Rabold’s photo catalog was lost to memory.
In 2005, however, Rabold’s grandson —Robert “Bobby” Rabold – located thousands of negatives in 414 envelopes, which appear to have been stored in the former Princess Theater building since the 1920s. Later, Bobby Rabold had more than 3,500 of the negatives developed by local preservationist Benjamin “Ben” Runner, preserving them for our community.
Thanks to the Rabold family and the efforts of the Bowling Green Daily News, these digitized black and white photos of the “Earl D. Rabold Collection” can be enjoyed by the public today.