Thursday, March 31, 2016

Photographic Collections Update

Written by Dan DelViscio

Since I began working at Delaware State University, my primary project has been the processing of the Public Relations and Alumni Affairs Photograph Collections. Both collections depict people, places, and events at DSU in a variety of formats including photographs, negatives, slides, and proof sheets. It has been my task to catalog, house, and preserve these records so that researchers may have access to DSU’s visual history.

Both collections were presented to me in half processed states with some of the materials already housed and cataloged in archival boxes and the rest in largely unorganized banker’s boxes. My task was to rehouse the materials in more favorable conditions. This entailed placing them in polyester sleeves (see picture to the left), organizing them into acid free folders, and finally relegating them to acid free archival document boxes.

I also surveyed the existing collection to make sure the folders inside were properly spaced. Unfortunately, the collection needed a great deal of reorganizing and rehousing. Many of the photographs were not placed in protective sleeves and in many of the boxes the folders had slouched to create planar distortion (see example to the right). This phenomenon can result when there are not enough folders in a box to support each other and the contents begin to sag and curl over time.

In addition to rehousing all of the records I updated the existing finding aid for the collection. A finding aid is a tool record custodians create to inform researchers about the contents, provenance, and size of the collection. They tell researchers where the collection came from, what kind of materials are in the collection, and provide an inventory of each box to help researchers locate specific records.

It’s been a long tedious process to organize all these photographs, but through that process I’ve gained a better understanding of DSU’s history and a better insight into the trials and triumphs of the institution.

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