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That’s right as of today I have officially finished the Phase I stage in the slide collection. Yeah! Most of the boxes I went through today were in excellent shape and I really only found 2 problems. One a complete lack of labeling of a rather large collection and the other a very obvious case of a misplaced slide. The slide was of a lemur near her den and was labeled as being in Zion National Park, Utah. The problem is the rest of the collection (3 boxes worth) were all of animals taken in Africa!
While I didn’t have that many boxes to go through today there was quite a variety to the collections I did work on. I started with Philip Hanson Hiss’ collections and although there were many boxes telling me the slides were from a “Trip Around the World”, none of the slides or boxes where labeled with anything more specific than that. It is really a shame because there are some really beautiful slides in these collections but with out verification of what they are and where they were taken are they any use to researchers? There is only so much authority work one can do.
I then went on to some collections created by AMNH of both temporary and permanent exhibits when they were built. I was truly fascinated by the “Nature of the Diamond” Temporary Exhibit that was here in 1997. It included diamonds in royal jewelry as well as diamonds still in their matrix rocks.
I finished then Phase I in true AMNH style with a wonderful collection by Richard Van Gelder. Gelder traveled extensively around Africa from 1960-1981 photographing African animals in the wild. These slides were truly some of the best I’ve seen so far and often made me feel like I was right there next to these animals. Honestly Iris and I felt like we were looking at National Geographic. Unfortunately I can’t share any of these photos today since we are having difficulties with our camera but I will be sure to add some in either Wednesday or next Monday so be sure to check back!
Today we continued processing all of S. Byron Stone’s many many MANY slides!! Since an Internet search of him returned very little our best guess is that Stone was a world traveler who donated his travel photographs to the museum. He was extremely well travelled and explored some fascinating locations including Isreal, Japan, Thailand, South America and many more. thoughout the 1960’s. We came across a Body Building Competition in Japan that was a welcome change from the never ending slides of street markets and landscapes.
Stone’s images captured a specific time and place in the world when noticeable changes still existed between different countries. One of the souvenirs included in the slide collections were souvenir slides, created at the time to be bought by tourists for their slide shows at home. We’ve noticed these slides in a few of the travel collections of different people and have noted that every time they are present, the quality of the slide has deteriorated in color faster than the slides included in the collection. We somehow doubt that any country is creating souvenir slides today.
There were some problems with sloppy labeling present in Stone’s collection and also in the mysterious Clyde Fisher collection. More on the mystery later. In the case of the Fisher collection, many of the labels were marked directly on the mount in ink, which could off-gas. In the case of the Stone collection, we came across a rather sloppy and extreme case of labeling gone wrong when we found a slide covered in what looked like red crayon.
And on to our mystery of the day: how does a man take extensive photos of his travels over 20 years after his death? That is the question that the wonder of authority records will solve, when we clear up the reason why a Clyde Fisher who died in 1949 was labelled the creator of slides taken in the late 60s and early 70s. Hooray for authority records!
As always, thanks for visiting the slide collection with us and we will see you all next week!
Iris joined me today on my maiden voyage into the slide collection of the Museum. The day began with bugs and ended in spiders but brought us to Aztec ruins, street markets in India and the San Juan Yacht club before bringing us closer to home with the animals of Bear Mountain and the original 1920 library staff of the Museum. I smelled my first band-aid scented glass mounted slide (delicious!) and found out that George Borup, a team leader on the Peary Exploration of the North Pole, rode 3255 miles on a dog sled to drop supplies in advance for the rest of the team.
The main point that needs to be followed up on from today’s work is to find out who Max Pine was and why a collection was attributed to him–there is no mention of his name anywhere except for on the outside of the collection box.
It was fun being taken around the world with the collection and I’m just hoping that the other images from the day will keep the final image I saw from my mind when I go to sleep tonight:
Today we worked on cataloging slides in the Research Library. We worked primarily with the William James Morden Collection. Morden completed many expeditions to Africa from 1947-1956. Most of the slides contained photos taken all over Africa including Zimbabwe, Congo, Angola, Kenya and Zaire. There was one container that seemed to contain more than one collection. While this container did contain slides from Morden’s African Expeditions it also included many slides that were dated after his death and seemed to be expeditions led by his wife Irene Morden. Irene Morden’s slides included scenes not only from Africa but also Russia, Egypt and Nepal. There were also many slides which included Irene Morden as the subject.
While most of these slides are in very good condition we found one slide that for some unknown reason has two pieces of red tape over the slide. This tape is causing damage to the slide and it is deteriorating rapidly. There is a possibility the tape could be causing harm to the rest of the slides in the container due to off gassing.
It has been a productive summer in the AMNH Research Library: 454 collections cataloged in the Photographic Print collection, and 461 collections for the Photographic Slides. That’s over 900 collections recorded for a single term! To our benefit, we did start with some pretty solid inventories, but verifying the data and assessing risk is no small task. Many improvements were made such as adding access points to the subject and contributor fields. Titles, dates, and summaries were revised to be made DACS-compliant. There was even time to do authority work on personal and corporate names. In twelve weeks, I think we accomplished a lot.
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On our final day in the Photographic Slide Collection, we divided our day between the two summer-long goals of cataloging hidden collections and performing a risk assessment of these collections. We are pleased to report that we reached our target of carrying out Phase 1 and Phase 2 up to PSC 359!
It was business as usual on our last day with this collection, and we have certainly seen a lot of amazing images. We had a very productive summer and learned a lot from this experience. See below for a photo of all of the collections we worked our way through.
Both David and I will be returning for the fall and are looking forward to exploring different areas of the archives. See you next semester!
Today, I started out continuing the authority work on the Photographic Slide CAT spreadsheet. I focused on the 6xx and 7xx fields, looking up names as well as topical and geographical subjects. While most of these terms were found using the AMNH OPAC or Library of Congress authorities, again the issue arose of several names I could not find. If this issue occurs, as I assume it does in almost any institution, I wonder what the proper procedure is for dealing with this?
This afternoon Iris and I began labeling some of the slide collections. As we began this right after lunch, we eagerly grabbed the first two boxes in need of labeling, thinking this would be a swift and efficient process. Wrong!
Our first collection was PSC 34, slides of the Hall of Human Biology under construction. Each slide is to be labeled by collection number and the slide label in sequential order (e.g. Slide Collection 34, the slides will be numbered 34-1, 34-2, etc). However, there is often more than one exposure made from the same image, a process called ‘bracketing for exposure.’ The standard procedure for dealing with this process is to select the best exposure first, and follow the duplicates with the same number and an added letter suffix of “A,” “B,” or “C” (e.g. 34-1, 34-1A, 34-1B).
Sounds straightforward enough, right? In a perfect world yes, but there are about 600 slides in this collection, and the duplicates were spread out over the entire box! Luckily the standard procedure is to number slides using a #2 pencil, because we often had to erase numbers and reorder slides when we came across another duplicate of a previously labeled slide. We got about a quarter of the way through PSC 34 before it was time to end the day. This is definitely a more tedious (albeit necessary) process than we assumed.
Once these slides are processed and put into the library catalog, it will end up being much safer to loan them out with numbers and labels, preventing them from being lost or facing our most feared foe – dissociation!
As the weekend begins, I leave you with this image from another collection. Any guesses as to what this contraption is called? And notice how it is already nicely labeled for us.
Beginning our day with the second round of “Risk Assessment,” we swiftly moved our way back through all of the collections we had processed so far. In general, the slides are all in very good condition and rarely show any signs of preservation concerns. The most significant “risk” from these collections is dissociation by lacking any type of identification (other than the label on the outside of the box), thereby rendering them not-so-useful for research purposes.
With half of the day ahead of us, we moved onto a little spreadsheet data clean up and authority work. Here’s a little elaboration on one authority file we updated…Box 208 is labeled “G. Ekholm Collection, Mayan Photographs, 35 mm color slides, 44 images.” This “G. Ekholm” is actually the late Dr. Gordon F. Ekholm, curator emeritus here at the museum. Earning his master’s and doctoral degrees in anthropology from Harvard, Dr. Ekholm was an expert in the field of pre-Columbian archaeology of Mesoamerica. Many of his studies focused on parallels between southern and eastern Asian cultures and the Mayan civilization. An author search retrieved 17 records from the AMNH research library OPAC, including several books, numerous co-authored publications, and a few films. He served as an AMNH staff member for several decades.
But back to the collection…there are 44 slides, many of which are glass mounted, and all of which contain detailed captions, but no dates. The most eye-catching part of the collection concerns a “Volador Pole.” This group of photographs was taken during an expedition to Mexico, which focuses on a ceremonial ritual called the “Danza de los Volodares,” or “Dance of the Flyers.” Think of it as a merry-go-round for very brave adults. It consists of 5 dancers who climb a 30-meter pole, four of whom launch themselves from the top, tied by their feet with ropes, and swing around in circles, while the fifth remains at the top to play a flute and pray. According to myth, the ritual exists to ask the gods for a reprieve from severe drought. In 2009, the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) recognized this ceremony with the Intangible Cultural Heritage distinction. For those interested further, a video clip can be accessed here.
Our day began with verifying authority data in the creator field of our photographic slides inventory spreadsheet. On that account, we substantiated and/or edited about 100 records, which got us pretty much up to speed on all the collections we’ve described thus far. Some names were not found in the library’s OPAC or Library of Congress, so we’ll have to deal with those later.
The issue that arose in today’s processing concerned the authority file of one photographer, ambiguously labeled on 9 boxes as “Fisher.” Someone had previously credited an influential photographer on the spreadsheet, by the name of Clyde Fisher, who has turned up in many other print and slide collections. The tricky part is, the slides were dated circa the 1960s and 1970s, while the authority record of Clyde Fisher indicates a death date of 1949…so something doesn’t add up. None of the slides were numbered, none were labeled, and they numbered literally in the thousands. Regarding whom to credit, we’re still unsure. But one thing is certain; he was genius at capturing human emotions.
We’re not sure what these people are smiling about, but we’re happy to be working our way through all of these remarkable slide collections…
As a shelf shifting project is currently underway, our efforts today were geared more toward detailing the accuracy of the data for collections we had previously cataloged. In particular, we went through the dates, titles, and names to make sure that they were compliant with DACS (Describing Archives: A Content Standard). One detail we learned is that abbreviations should be avoided, e.g., spell out circa and approximately, rather than ca. or approx.
Another area of focus was verifying authority records for creators. While some were easily found in the AMNH OPAC or the Library of Congress authorities, many could not be verified or even found at all. For example, no additional data could be found for Oscar Byron, a photographer responsible for a number of collections of travel photography from around the world. Verification or not, he took this sweet photo (no pun intended) of a mountain of sugar in Barbados, which was the most remarkable discovery today.
TagsAinu AMNH library catalog Anthropology Archives Archbold Archival Arrangement archives Authority Names CAT Cataloging CLIR 2010 clir 2012 Correspondence Crocker Land Department of Preparation and Installation Department Records EAC-CPF expeditions Fall 2011 Field Notes Finding Aid finding aids Hayden Planetarium Herpetology Archives hidden connections IMLS LARA linked data Mammalogy Archives Manuscript Collection Museum History Non-Curatorial Field Notes Ornithology Archives Paleontology Archives Phase 2 photographs Photo Print Collection Processing Research Library Risk Assessment Slide Collection Spring 2011 Spring 2012 Summer 2011 Summer 2012 T. Don Carter
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