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New book on White Sands Missile Range
By Tom Fuller   - 02/01/2009

Alamogordo Daily News

A new pictorial history, titled "Images of America: White Sands Missile Range," hit the shelves of local bookstores in January the fruit of many hours of labor by the director of the missile range museum.

Published by Arcadia press, the book covers the history of the missile range since its founding in 1945. The author, Darren Court, is giving all the profits from the book sales to the White Sands Historical Foundation.

When Court took over as WSMR's museum director in May 2007, he could find no book that put the rich history of the range into one volume for easy reference. He found many historical papers, including much material about Trinity Site. He even found writings about the ranchers who lived on and worked the land now occupied by the missile range.

But there was no compilation of WSMR's history.

In fall 2007, Court decided he was in a position to meet the needs of the many visitors and researchers who have asked for "the White Sands book." He e-mailed the proposal to Arcadia Press, the publisher of a book he had co-authored with other graduate students while in the New Mexico State University public history program in 2006.

"I got an answer right away," Court said. "They thought it was a fantastic idea. They ran it by their editorial board and jumped at the idea."

For the next eight months, Court took his lunch hour and any free time he had after work selecting photos, scanning them and researching photo captions.

"In our archives, we have about 10,000 documents and photographs cataloged," Court said. "I would go there and spend time looking through the archives, photos and things. It's amazing the number of photos we have."

Many of the photos that were used in the book are previously unpublished, he said. Court submitted the first draft in August 2008 and the first books were delivered Jan. 12.

The book is on sale at the museum gift shop and several local bookstores. The money raised will go to the White Sands Historical Foundation.

"The job of the historical foundation is to raise money to build a new museum, which is greatly needed," he said. "Since all the photos (in the book) are from either our vertical files at the museum or the archives, all the money that I get from the book is going to be turned over."

Aside from the general public, Court said the book is also for the people who have lived and worked at WSMR and who have contributed to its history.

"White Sands has had a need for a book like this for a long time," said Monte Marlin, WSMR public affairs officer. "Darren has done a wonderful job collecting and captioning images that reflect not only highlights of missile range history, but also its special personality."

Dennis Dekker, WSMR's director of family, moral, welfare and recreation, said the book displayed Court's conviction to preserving the knowledge of WSMR's contributions.

"The fact that Darren is donating all proceeds from his book to the historical foundation's construction fund for a new museum speaks volumes to his credibility and desire to perpetuate our history," Dekker said.

When asked how it felt to have his first book published, Court said it was exciting.

"I enjoyed doing it and I would do it again, but I didn't do it for myself," he said.

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