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Subject: Glass plate negatives

Glass plate negatives

From: Michael McCormick <ah670>
Date: Sunday, September 22, 1991
>1.  Do any of you out there have glass plate negative collections???

We have several very large collections of glass plates in a variety of

>2.  Of those of you who do, how do researchers use them?

Virtually none of our researchers request access to the plates
themselves. Generally, they are looking at the information content of
the photos, and want to see positive prints.  A few purists ask to see
negs, so as to determine the quality of the imagery.  Because of the
threat of loss, we rarely grant such access.

>3.  How do you balance meeting the research needs of your patrons with
>    the preservation issues associated with handling this material?

Our procedure has been to print archival quality copies from the negs.
While a print does not preserve the entirety of the detail of the neg,
it is generally quite serviceable, and duplicable if destroyed.

As there are questions regarding Direct Duplicating film's stability,
and the interpositive/duplicate negative is rather time consuming, we
have not gone into neg duplication.  However, I am aware that our
nitrates will have to be handled at some point, even though we are
printing them also on a regular basis.

>    b.  What are some of the major issues you have come across in
>        servicing your collection?

Perhaps we are lucky; perhaps, Cleveland not being a center of the
photographic industry, we are not faced with investigations of the
negative materials as a question in themselves.  In any event, we do not
allow access to the negs without a curatorial interview, and a
determination that the research requires the originals.

In very few cases is this true.  We apologize to those few, with the
explanation that the collections are preservation items, and should
receive minimal handling.  We have not had complaints, when explained
this way.

Michael McCormick
Western Reserve Historical Society

                  Conservation DistList Instance 5:21
                Distributed: Sunday, September 29, 1991
                        Message Id: cdl-5-21-009
Received on Sunday, 22 September, 1991

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