Conservation Research

Over the course of the past 25 years, the imperative to study and preserve albumen prints has gained momentum. As the field of photography conservation has matured, numerous articles dealing with the preservation of albumen prints have been written, primarily appearing in conservation and scientific journals. The earliest article in this category dates from 1979 by James Reilly. Entitled "Research in Preservation of Albumen Prints Planned at RIT" The article states that "research into new preservation and restoration methods for 19th century albumen photographic prints is planned for the next two years at Rochester Institute of Technology." Over the course of the next several years, this initial two-year project spawned several early articles on the subject of albumen print preservation, six of which appear below. The work of Reilly and his co-authors mainly focuses on the causes of chemical deterioration of albumen prints including highlight yellowing and image fading. Starting in the early 1990's, Messier and Vitale collaborated on several articles that dealt primarily with the physical and mechanical properties of albumen photographs, with special attention to the aqueous treatment of albumen photographs. This work was done at the Smithsonian's Conservation Analytical Laboratory (now called the Smithsonian Center for Materials Research and Education). The most recent addition to this category is the article by Baas, Foster and Trentleman of the Detroit Institute of Arts. This article looks at the effect of different aqueous treatment on the surface gloss of albumen prints.