#WaybackWednesday – “The Correct Method of Preserving Fruit”

A few weeks ago, I decided to take another look at one of my favorite collections, MS-0381 Food and Household Product Advertising Guides and Publications collection. circa 1880s-1978, undated. I wrote about this collection in a previous blog post and promised to post more about the collection soon.

Fulfilling that promise, let’s take a look at a booklet titled “The Correct Method of Preserving Fruit”, published by Ball Brothers Glass MFG. CO. in Muncie, Indiana. As expected, the booklet contains details on how to preserve many different kinds of fruit (all using mason jars, of course). However, this guide also contains information on how to can vegetables, make pickles, and even sauces.

Throughout the MS-0381 collection, there are several of these types of practical household guides produced by companies to showcase the many uses of their main product. For another example, check out our previous post about Arm & Hammer Baking Soda advertisements. In this case, Ball Brothers Glass may have created this guide to persuade consumers of the necessity of “Ball” Mason Jars.

Understanding the source and having an idea of the purpose of the information, is always important. In my opinion, it makes these tips seem much more interesting. Here are a few instructions that caught my attention while flipping through the guide. Of course, these may be fascinating to me because I can barely boil water.

Which one of these would you most want to try? Comment below!

All materials from Box 1 of MS-0381 Food and Household Product Advertising Guides and Publications collection. circa 1880s-1978, undated.


SCUA 2.0, or Archives in the Age of Self-Isolation

Hello, ISU!

While we are all in self-isolation these next few weeks, don’t forget about some of the great online resources we have to help you access collections materials from SCUA.

Digital Collections

Nowhere near all of our collections are digitized, but we do have a fair number of high-use collections, and particularly photographs, available for online viewing here.

The Bomb Yearbook

This is part of our digital collections, but I mention it separately because it’s a fantastic resource that lends itself well to a great number of research projects, as well as to some genealogical questions. The entire run of the college yearbooks, from 1893-1994, is included, and much of it is (at least partially) keyword searchable.

Flickr Photos

In addition to the more official digital collections, we also have some photograph collections available on Flickr!

YouTube: AV Collections

Lots of people don’t realize this, but many of our digitized AV materials are available for streaming on our YouTube channel. You can listen to some old University Lectures recordings, watch wrestling demonstrations, browse WOI films, re-live memorable moments from past Cyclone games and VEISHEA, and so much more.

Online Exhibits

For nearly every physical exhibit we host in Special Collections, there is a corresponding online exhibit, which often features additional materials and information. These exhibits can be a great springboard if you are interested in a particular topic but either don’t know much about it or aren’t sure which related collections to explore first.

Digital Repository

A number of historical publications produced by members of the Iowa State community can also be found in our digital repository alongside more recent publications, theses, conference proceedings, and so forth. Examples of this include The Aurora, a very early student newspaper, and rainfall statistics recorded at the college experimental station in the 1890s.

Web Archives

Did you know that we capture old and outdated versions of university-affiliated web pages and social media accounts? Some of these crawls go back as far as 10 years. You can search the public site here.

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Finally, you can plan your next in-person visit to the archives by browsing our finding aid database and figuring out which collections you will want to look at when you get here.

You can also reach us at archives@iastate.edu, if you have questions.

Stay safe, everyone. And stay home!

And don’t forget: SCUA made you wash your hands before it was “a thing.”

 

 

 

 

 


Weird, Wacky, Wonderful: “Standardness”

MS 636, Box 64, Folder 29, photo by Olivia Garrison

Normally I find material for these posts through searching the records for the answers to reference questions. However, I stumbled upon this when walking through our processing room, where one of our processing archivists was working with the Underground Comix collection.

This record is part of a series in the collection that contains non-comix materials produced by underground comix publishers. This record was produced by Krupp Comic Works (KCW). Of course, the key reason I chose this artifact for the blog is the “High Standard of Standardness”; surely the mark of a great song!


Native American Heritage Month: Historical Photos of the Meskwaki

November is Native American Heritage Month, and our post for today features two sets of photos from within larger manuscript collections that offer glimpses of Meskwaki life from late 19th and early 20th century Iowa.

It bears mentioning that, while we are always seeking to diversify our collections, Iowa State University is not, and by its very nature will never be, the best resource for learning about Native American people’s histories and cultures — even those directly adjacent to us. This is because Native American nations keep their own records. If, therefore, you want to learn more about the Meskwaki Nation, which is located in Tama County, about an hour’s drive from ISU, I strongly recommend that you go directly to the source by visiting their website, their cultural center and museum, and/or by getting in touch with the museum’s historic preservation staff (contact information at the bottom of the linked page). They will be able to tell you more about themselves than our archives, or even coursework in ISU’s excellent American Indian Studies Program (AISP), ever could.

I also want to point out that the photographs in this post are, to the best of my knowledge, the creation of white, European-American photographers, who were outsiders to the Meskwaki culture. This is significant because it suggests that what we are actually seeing in these photos is (sometimes obvious, but always decidedly one-sided) documentation of encounters between two very different cultures, rather than internal elements or perspectives of Meskwaki life. It does not, at least in my opinion, make the images any less interesting or historically valuable; it is simply important context to bear in mind, particularly as our collections do not contain the counterpart, which would be documentation of such interactions that centers a Meskwaki point-of-view.

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These photos are among the oldest I know of in our collections that contain glimpses of people from what was then, at least to English-speakers, known as the “Sauk and Fox” tribe. The images are contained in a 6″ x 8″ photo album, which documents rural life in central Iowa at the end of the 19th century, though it is unclear who the creator was or why so much of the album remains empty.

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MS-0714. Iowa Photograph Album. Album cover.

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MS-0714. Iowa Photograph Album. Last page in album, identifying the manufacturer.

I have scanned the relevant page spread in its entirety but will zoom in on the three individual images, as well. Each is a black-and-white, thumbnail-sized picture inserted into a photograph sleeve with four-windows and then captioned and dated by hand.

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MS-0714. Iowa Photograph Album.

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MS-0714. Iowa Photograph Album.

According to an Encyclopedia Brittanica article, THE Black Hawk (Ma-ka-tai-me-she-kai-kaik), a Sauk warrior famed for leading three allied Iowa tribes (Sauk, Meskwaki, and Kickapoo) through the 1832 “Black Hawk War” against the U.S. government, died in 1838. This means that the man pictured above must be another, younger leader who went, or at least was know to local Anglo settlers, by the same name.

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MS-0714. Iowa Photograph Album.

It is too bad that the photographer neglected to ask and/or recall these individuals’ names. It is, unfortunately, also not clear whether any of them had consented to be photographed in the first place. The fact that they are walking away from the camera suggests that they did not.

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MS-0714. Iowa Photograph Album.

Although these individuals are identified as being “from Tama Reservation,” it is not entirely clear whether they would have belonged to the Meskwaki Nation as it currently defines itself. “Sauk and Fox” seems to have been a catch-all term designated by the U.S. government for at least two distinct tribes, both of which it sought to forcibly relocated to Kansas in the decades following the Black Hawk War. The Meskwaki have also never referred to themselves internally as the “Fox”; this is an anglicization of a name conferred on the tribe by French fur trappers more than a century before. The “reservation” in Tama county, where a number chose to remain and/or return, was also not technically a government reservation, as the Meskwaki had purchased this land for themselves in 1857.

 

1931

These pictures were taken at an annual Powwow festival, which, according to the Meskwaki website, is typically held in either August or September and modeled after a traditional harvest-time social event known as the “Green Corn Dance.” Photographer Walter Rosene, best known for his prolific local bird photography, featured in the Avian Archives of Iowa Online, took these pictures, presumably while attending a Meskwaki Powwow with family or friends.

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MS-0598, Box 17, Folder 5. Meskwaki Powwow.

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MS-0598, Box 17, Folder 5. Meskwaki Powwow. The kids posing for this photo afford us an excellent view of their fancy outfits. The little one on the left, though, looks like he’s ready to scamper off to re-join the festivities!

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MS-0598, Box 17, Folder 5. Meskwaki Powwow. It is unclear whether this photo was taken at the Powwow or sometime before or after. There is no additional information on the back, but I am guessing that the people in this photo were all spectators. I personally also find the symmetry and contrasts interesting — for example, the plaid in both the little white girl’s dress and in the Meskwaki woman’s shawl, and the way the woman and children in the foreground are the only ones both not wearing hats and seemingly absorbed in something other than Rosene’s camera.

I did locate photos within a few more collections, all of them RS collections, which is more of what I typically work with. But I realized belatedly that the boxes I needed from each of these are stored off-site and that I wouldn’t have time to request them. Perhaps they will become their own blog post someday.

 

 


Tricks, Treats, or Both? Maggot Rice Krispies, Chocolate “Chirpie” Cookies, and the ISU Entomology Club

After all of you Halloween zombies out there have feasted on blood and brains, can I tempt you with a nice chocolate-covered grasshopper, or maybe some mealworm banana bread, for dessert? No, really! Just scroll down, and you’ll see I’ve included the recipes.

In 1992, the ISU Entomology Club made national headlines for a component of its annual Insect Horror Film Festival when students Julie Stephens and Kathy Gee took their entomological desserts on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno.

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The Entomology Club had been a fixture on the ISU campus since the 1970s. I’ve included the covers from some of their early newsletters below.

However, the Insect Horror Film Festival seems to have been a new development in their programming in the early 1990s — though its subsequent popularity was undoubtedly helped along almost as much by the national recognition as by the prospect of a “petting zoo,” a lecture on forensic pathology (i.e. the science of human corpse erosion), and the alluring snacks.

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As far as I can tell, the Insect Horror Film Festival was discontinued at ISU around 2005* [see end note for correction], though not before it was featured in travel guidebooks and inspired similar programs in numerous other Entomology departments around the country. It also certainly made an impression on young guests who attended.

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And here, as promised, are some of the tasty recipes reproduced in the Ames Tribune, along with a helpful guide for acquiring and preparing the insects.

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If you forgot to pick up candy for trick-or-treating this year, now you know what to hand out to the kids!

*UPDATE: This blog posts speculates, based on current archival holdings, that the Insect Horror Film Festival was discontinued in the mid-2000s. However, Entomology has since let us know that this program, under a slightly different name, is still going strong today! For more information, check out their department’s event calendar archive and/or the Reiman Gardens event calendar.


Accessing Unprocessed Collections

Most of you are likely familiar with our finding aids; they follow a standard format, they have background information, and most importantly they have a list of folder titles so you can easily find what you’re looking for. These finding aids are created after a collection has been processed – that is, after someone has spent many hours arranging and describing the collection to make it as user friendly as possible. This has traditionally been how things work in archives – process, then provide access. We weren’t restricting access to unprocessed collections, but how would you know to ask for them if we haven’t told the world they’re here?

This year, we’re doing something new (to us). Instead of waiting until a collection is fully processed, we’re creating a finding aid before processing to provide access as soon as possible.  These finding aids are a lot shorter than most, and will have some special instructions/notes in them that I’d like to highlight:

Any unprocessed collections will require advance notice – 2 working days to be exact. This allows us a chance to locate the boxes, which are kept separately from the processed materials, and do a quick review of them before providing access.

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Location/Public Access Data field shows the Unprocessed status and requirements for requesting material.

SCUA also requires special permission to make a copy or take a photograph of any material in unprocessed collections. During processing, we remove any information that’s restricted or protected by regulations, such as social security numbers, medical information covered by HIPPA regulations, or student educational information covered by FERPA regulations. Since we haven’t taken those steps with these unprocessed collections, we want to make sure we aren’t releasing copies of this information.

Side note: If you find any of these types of restricted information in any of our collections, please tell us! 

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The Restrictions on Access and Use field shows the requirements for making reproductions from unprocessed collections.

Finally, unprocessed collections can sometimes be unorganized, and a little messy. Because of this, it can take a lot longer to find what you’re looking for. My advice is to plan on spending a little extra time looking through these! Below are two examples of what you might find.

 


#WomenOnWednesdays – ISU 1942-43

During World War II, everyone had to play their part to support the war effort, including Iowa State Students. Women all over campus stepped up and got involved in many ways. Perhaps related to the change in student population at the time, the contributions of female students were highlighted much more than usual in ISU yearbooks compiled during these years. Here are some of the contributions that were highlighted in the 1943 Bomb.

War Council Women

Home Economics Department Shortens Programs to Prepare Students to Work in War Areas

Students Prepare to Meet Emergency Needs

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Image from the 1943 Bomb pg. 58

Students Learn to Combat Clothes Rationing

Want to see more? Browse through the digital editions of the Bomb from the 1890s to the 1990s!

 


Latinx Heritage Month: HASU Poster and News Clippings

Happy Latinx Heritage Month!

Last September, I wrote about my process of searching for information about a (no-longer active) student organization that had not been adequately documented within our archival collections. Because, believe it or not, such a thing is possible! You can read the post here.

I just wanted to follow up on that post with a handful of HASU (Hispanic American Student Union) materials that I DID stumble across a few months later in the much more general RS 22/03/00/01 collection for multicultural student organizations, which had apparently grown since the last time it was inventoried in our subject index. Archives are, by nature, continually a work in progress. So sometimes, you just have to keep thinking of new places to look, even if your initial CARDinal keyword search turns up empty.

Unfortunately, I didn’t find very much. But here is a poster/flyer connected to the organization:

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HASU Poster, date unknown, RS 22/03/00/01

And, apparently, if these news clippings are dated correctly, the club existed into the 1990s, which I had not known when I wrote the last post. Also helpful are the inclusion of club officers’ names, which, if you wanted, you could look up in the Bomb Yearbook, as that still being published at the time.

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1990 Iowa State Daily news clippings, RS 22/03/00/01

And, finally, here is a teeny-tiny news clipping, about the size of a fortune cookie insert (pencil included in photograph for scale) from a year or two after the club was founded.

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1981 news clipping, RS 22/03/00/01

I will write about a few more student organizations, and maybe some other Latinx resources, later this month. Until then, make sure you take part in some of the fun celebrations that the U.S. Latino/a Studies (USLS) department has planned to commemorate their 25th anniversary.


Historical Photograph Formats: Tintypes

Last month, we explored one of the world’s oldest photographic formats, the daguerreotype, and the creation process behind it. See the post here. Today, we are going to look at a second, even more wide-spread format, which arrived at the tail end of the daguerreotype’s lifespan and quickly supplanted it.

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Tintype. RS 21/6/D. Pictured left-to-right are Kate McNeil, Mame McDonald (wife of Herman Knap), Mabel Ann Young, and Aggie West. circa 1884-1885.

More commonly known as the “tintype,” ferrotypes (originally called “melainotypes”) arrived on the scene around 1853, having been invented by yet another French photographer, Adolphe-Alexandre Martin. Patents began springing up in America and the UK around 1856. The process was faster and more accessible to amateur photographers than any of its predecessors, so the format’s popularity exploded in the 1860s and 1870s. Rather than dying out at the end of this period, however, when albumen prints took the center stage of mainstream photography, tintypes remained souvenir staples at fairs and carnivals well into the 20th century – a kind of predecessor to more recent polaroids or photo booths. Within the past decade, beginning around 2012, they have also undergone a revival as an alternative form of art photography. See articles here and here for some cool examples.

But let’s back up a little. What exactly does this process look like?

In learning how to identify a daguerreotype, you may recall that I mentioned a format called an ambrotype, which comprises a glass negative displayed against a black backdrop to create the illusion of a positive image. The concept behind tintype photography draws on this same principle, and indeed incorporates elements of the same “wet collodion” process. You can learn more about the wet collodion process from this Getty Museum video, which provides a demonstration, as well as historical context:

Unlike a glass plate negative, however, the black backdrop against which a tintype negative displays is burned into a thin sheet of iron, over which the photographer directly applies a layer of emulsion. After exposure and development, the photographer then seals the plate with varnish, thereby permanently binding the negative image in the emulsion to the blackened iron that renders it positive.

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The slightly-buckled back of a tintype photograph. You can see where the varnish has bubbled.

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Close-up view of the surface of a tintype photograph.

An interesting sidenote, then, is that “tintype,” while much catchier than “ferrotype,” is technically a misnomer, despite the cheap, “tinny” feel of the finished product, as there is no actual tin involved at any stage of development.

The Kalamazoo Museum in Michigan created a video that demonstrates the tintype process specifically. You can view it here:

The format’s durability was undoubtedly its biggest selling point. While daguerreotypes and glass plate negatives require bulky cases and delicate handling, a tintype can (more-or-less) safely be displayed in any or no case at all. Many were originally framed in flimsy cardboard or paper-mache mattings.

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Tintypes with paper matting, viewed from the front. RS 21/6/D. Photo on the left: Harriet Hulton and H. E. McElroy, both class of 1885. Photo on the right: unnamed gentleman from the classes of 1882 and 1883 (though signatures on the back might offer a clue! See below).

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Tintype photographs in paper matting, viewed from the back. RS 21/6/D.

They could also be mailed or carried around in someone’s pocket, as most were small, clocking in around 3-4 inches tall on average (though, as you’ll see below, we have one 6-inch tall example in the archives).

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Tintypes. RS 21/6/D.

Additionally, tintypes could be developed very quickly, which meant that roadside photographers began to pop up all over cities and carnivals, eager to snap someone’s picture for a fee. A number of surviving photographs from the Civil War era, particularly portraits of field soldiers, were tintypes for this same reason.

Unfortunately, none of the photographs from our collection feature Civil War portraits or combat scenes. But you can see a number of these online through the Library of Congress website: https://www.loc.gov/collections/civil-war/?fa=subject:tintypes

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Screenshot of the Civil War tintype photographs in the Library of Congress’s digital collections. They are accessible via this URL: https://www.loc.gov/collections/civil-war/?fa=subject:tintypes

The tintypes in our ISU archives primarily feature local alumni from the mid-1880s.

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Tintype photograph. RS 21/6/D. Behind left-to-right: W. H. Wier (class of 1884), L. G. Brown (1885), and J. H. Mayne (1885). In front: two women, unnamed. Presumably class of 1885.

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Tintype photograph. RS 21/6/D. Harriet Hulton and 3 other unnamed women from the class of 1885. See how the image is buckled in the middle? That is not a reflection: it is the surface of the artifact itself.

These are congregated into a small teaching collection, rather than associated with an RS collection, and, if you would like to view them, you will need to ask the staff at our front desk to look for the “Tintypes” box in range 309.

That said, if you are interested in this format, you should definitely come visit us sometime! Our reading room is open Monday-Friday from 9-5.

 

 


Historical Photograph Formats: Daguerreotypes

Earlier this year, I had the opportunity to learn a little bit more about some historical photography processes while preparing to teach a class. This is not in any way my area of expertise, but I wanted to share both what I learned and also examples I uncovered in our ISU collections (which, while far from comprehensive, do contain more formats than I thought they would!).

If this is a topic you find interesting, know that there are a ton of other fantastic resources out there, both online and within our library and the ISU community. I’ll include a few of these throughout the post and then note more at the end.

So, the earliest format for which we have an example is the daguerreotype. (Pronounced duh-gair-oh-type.)

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Artifact #2001-R001. Daguerreotype of Benjamin Gue.

Daguerreotypy was not the first photographic process to capture scenes with a camera, nor even the first to succeed in permanently fixing the image to a chemically-prepared surface. The latter honor belongs to another French process called “heliography” (aka “sun-writing”), and you can see an example in the Harry Ransom Center collections at the University of Texas in Austin. However, the daguerreotype process was the first to become available to the public.

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With the case closed. Artifact #2001-R001.

The daguerreotype was invented in Paris in 1837 by Louis Daguerre, when he discovered that a silver-coated copper plate could be made light sensitive when exposed to chloride of iodine (now known as iodine monochloride) and chloride of bromine (now known as bromine monochloride). After exposure, the plate would be developed in a dark room via heated mercury fumes, and then fixed in a bath of hyposulphite of soda (now known as sodium thiosulfate).

There were two main draw-backs to this process, however. The first, since the exposed plate itself became the finished product, was that the process created no negatives, which meant that each image was entirely unique and could not be reproduced. The second was that these plates were incredibly fragile. The cases in which they were mounted were primarily protective, not decorative, and thus, unlike photo frames of today, vital to the photograph’s survival.

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Diagram of a daguerreotype case. Photographs: Archival Care and Management by Mary Lynn Ritzenhaler and Diane Vogt-O’Connor

In addition, exposure time for this process lasted an excruciatingly long time by today’s standards. Resources differ in their estimations, and it seems that the process shortened over its lifespan, but exposure could reportedly last anywhere between 90 seconds and 20 minutes, during which the subject of the picture had to keep absolutely still. Behind-the-scenes sketches of the studio set-up often feature torturous-looking headrest devices, shaped like display stands for collectible dolls, to hold the subject’s head and neck in place.

Nevertheless, the daguerreotype was wildly popular during its short life from 1837 to about 1860, after which it was replaced by less expensive and less cumbersome formats.

This 2012 YouTube video from the Getty Museum offers a fantastic overview of that period and allows you to see the process in action. The video is titled “Early Photography: Making Daguerreotypes”, and can be accessed through the link here if the embedded version isn’t work for you.

Our ISU example of a daguerreotype, located in the artifacts collection (#2001-R001), aptly demonstrates some key identifying features of the format.

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A behind-the-scenes look in into our artifact collection.

As discussed previously, with only a few rare and very early exceptions, all daguerreotypes will be contained in a protective case, often with an attached cover that swings closed on a hinge.

It is worth noting, however, that while nearly all daguerreotypes will have these protective cases, not all photographs contained in such cases are daguerreotypes. Ambrotypes, a slightly later format, were also typically sealed in cases. The visual distinction between the two, then, lies in the tonal range and the reflective quality of the surface.

An ambrotype is a glass plate negative developed via the wet collodion process and then displayed against a black velvet background, which creates the illusion of a positive image. Consequently, its tonal range will be much more muted than that of a daguerreotype, with the whites appearing less white and more of a creamy gray.

Unfortunately, we don’t have examples of this format in our archives, but here is a visual from the book I have referenced previously:

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Ambrotype. Photographs: Archival Care and Management by Mary Lynn Ritzenhaler and Diane Vogt-O’Connor, page 35.

Because ambrotypes are negative images developed on a glass plate and daguerreotypes are positive images developed on a silver-coated copper plate (i.e. shiny metal on shiny metal), the surface of a daguerreotype is also much more reflective than that of an ambrotype — almost giving the impression of a ghost-image emerging through a mirror, depending on the angle from which it is viewed.

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Me photobombing Benjamin Gue . . . about 200 years after the fact. Artifact #2001-R001.

The presence of this mirror-like quality also means that daguerreotypes are better viewed from a side-angle, and/or with an object or piece of paper held up to block reflective glare (e.g. my phone in the picture immediately above), than they are straight on. So, if you find yourself tilting the photo this way and that to see an image of something other than your own face, this is probably the format you are dealing with.

Contrary to common knowledge, daguerreotypes also come in a variety of sizes, from a “whole plate,’ which is about 8.5 inches by 6.5 inches, to a “sixteenth plate,” which is about 1 inch by 1 inch. Also, while the original images will all be in black and white, you’ll find that some were hand-colored after development. You’ll see this most often in portraits, where a tiny bit of pink has been dabbed onto the subjects’ cheeks to make them look more lifelike.

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Close-up of Artifact #2001-R001.

And that about wraps things up, so I hope you’ve enjoyed learning about daguerreotypes as much as I did.

If you’d like to examine our portrait of Benjamin Gue in person, feel free to stop by the archives any time that we are open, and we can assist you with the process of handling such an artifact (hint: you’ll be using gloves!). Or if you’d like to learn more, check out some of the resources below.


 

Benjamin Gue’s personal papers can be found in the archives at RS 1/3/52. You can also view the finding aid, including biographical information, here.

The book with which I supplemented images to this post is Photographs: Archival Care and Management by Mary Lynn Ritzenhaller and Diane Vogt-O’Connor with Helena Zinkham, Brett Carnell, and Kit Peterson. We do not have a copy in our general collections, but you can access reviews here, or buy a copy here.

In addition to an extensive collection of the daguerreotype format (contrasted with our one artifact!), the Library of Congress links to more online resources here, describing the process in more detail, showing digitized examples, and inviting you to join The Daguerreian Society (because, yes, apparently that is a thing).

If you have additional questions about identifying, storing, handling, or repairing historical photograph formats, the staff in our Preservation department at Parks Library are very knowledgeable. Both Sonya Barron and Cynthia Kapteyn helped me out with preparation and activities for the class which inspired this post. You can visit the Preservation department page here for contact information. And, as a side note, they also run a blog, full of fascinating updates on current projects, which you can find here.