EYE OF THE BEHOLDER #1 OCTOBER '08: Archives
Mariecris Gatlabayan Assistant Professor, Archivist, Archives & Special Collections, Consortium Library
When looking at this photograph I see a piece of a whole. The photograph is one document that is part of a series of documents that record the lives and activities of Richard Tighe Harris and his family. As a result, most documents, whether a photograph or a letter, are not individually described. Instead, I would describe the whole grouping or ‘series’ within the Harris Collection which includes the photograph.
While surveying the collection to determine the original order or arrangement of the collection and to create an accurate description of the collection, I would note this photograph is part of a series of photographs of Richard Tighe Harris and his family members. In addition, I would also note that the photograph was taken in 1898 and mounted on cardboard cardstock. This leads to me see preservation issues. Though the photograph is in remarkable shape, with only a few wrinkles, the cardstock is acidic and may affect the photograph. Unfortunately the photograph is strongly adhered to cardboard, so removing the photograph from its cardboard mount would destroy it. Recognizing that the photograph is in good shape and will be in a temperature and relative humidity controlled environment, I would put it in archival safe enclosure and minimize its exposure to light. I would also see that the picture is a good candidate for digitization for access purposes!
In essence, as an archivist, I not only see the informational content of this photograph and its part in the greater context of the collection, but I also see the preservation and access issues of this photograph. In doing so, the informational value can be available to future generations.
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