Currently viewing the tag: "Stereographs"

Today I had the chance to look over a collection of anonymous stereographs from a wide-ranging African expedition, 1906-1911, with the goal of writing a finding aid. I am eager to find out, if possible, who wrote the very consistent captions on these photos, most of which are of locations and local people. My only clues are: some of the captions are initialed: VSK, 1911; the person misspelled the word “ant” to read “aunt,” and I wonder if s/he is not a native English speaker; and most importantly there is a photo of Carl Akeley posing with a giraffe head, leading me to wonder if this collection is documentation of his African expedition. Diane led me to a book entitled African Obsession: The life and legacy of Carl Akeley, by Penelope Bodry-Sanders. Skimming the book, I was able to find quite a number of the locations cited in the stereographs, but not a name to match my initials. I am happy to have found a possible link, if not to the collector, then to Akeley’s expedition. It is a great luxury to be able to spend some time in this kind of research.

In addition, there is one photo captioned Duke Abruzzi’s caravan. I found that The Duke d’Abruzzi was a known mountaineer around the turn of the 20th century. One gets a sense of these expeditions linking up or crossing paths as they moved through the continent.

However, the most heart-rending find of the day was a group of images from the Kisubi Mission Station in Uganda devoted to the care of people in the final stages of “sleeping sickness.” One is captioned “a man gone dangerous “ whose “foot is put through a log” presumably to hinder his movements should he become violent. The photo shows that his foot is padded from the roughness of the log, and he has ropes to help him lift it to get around. I am struck by the combined brutality of the shackling and the consideration of protecting his foot from damage and maintaining his mobility.


Today we went through the end of Phase 1 and, unbelievably, we also made it through the end of Phase 2. How satisfying. The Photographic Print Collection is now done. Yay!

We came across this cool stereoscopic viewer which allowed us to see the slides in 3D, which included photos of Hawaii and Cambodia. Low-tech Avatar, but it really works.

This summer has been a great learning experience, and we got to see some pretty amazing stuff. Not only in processing the Photographic Print Collection, but through SAA webinars, tours of the diorama renovations and rare book rooms, and the brown bag lunch with Richard T. Fischer.

Lauren will be returning for more museum adventures this fall, but this is Joanna’s farewell. Thank you Iris, Becca, Barbara, Tom, Mai, Greg, and the rest of library staff for everything.


Today we surpassed the 200 mark in phase 1 of cataloging the photographic print collections! Needless to say, we’ve seen a lot of great photographs. We’ve often come across stereographic prints while cataloging, but today we found a special stereographic print album, made to look like books in the stacks. We also found one collection that included the viewing apparatus, called a folding stereoscope. Armed with the new viewer, we were eager and curious to finally take advantage and get the full stereo effect of these prints. However, upon closer inspection, we found this particular collection consisted of rat and chick embryos. Not quite something you want to see in mono or stereo if you ask us! We may have to try out the folding stereoscope on a different collection.