JAIC 1991, Volume 30, Number 1, Article 5 (pp. 41 to 73)
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Journal of the American Institute for Conservation
JAIC 1991, Volume 30, Number 1, Article 5 (pp. 41 to 73)

PRESERVATION OF 19TH-CENTURY NEGATIVES IN THE NATIONAL ARCHIVES

CONSTANCE McCABE



1 INTRODUCTION

SEVERAL SERIES of important 19th-century glass plate negatives in the holdings of the Still Pictures Branch of the National Archives were selected for a major preservation project. Negatives included in this project are from the following record groups: the Records of the Office of the Chief of Engineers (RG 77). Records of the Geological Survey (RG 57). Records of the Smithsonian Institution (RG 106), and Records of the office of the Chief Signal Officer (RG 111), Nearly 8,000 negatives are involved in the project, ranging in size from 2 3 ⅛ in to 18 22 in.

The Western Survey photographs, dating from 1867 to 1883, are among the first photographs of the North American West. Many of the survey photographers are considered to be the most accomplished of that time. Photographer William Henry Jackson worked under the direction of Ferdinand V. Hayden documenting survey activities in Nebraska, Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, Idaho, and Montana (1869–78).Timothy H. O'Sullivan and William Bell, under the direction of George M. Wheeler, photographed explorations and surveys west of the 100th meridian (1871–74). O'Sullivan also photographed for the Clarence King Survey of the 40th Parallel (1868–70 and 1872). The negatives also include the work of John K. Hillers, E. O. Beaman, and James Fennemore, all three of whom photographed under the direction of Jhon Wesley Powell for the survey of the Rocky Mountain region (1871–78), and William R. Pywell, who photographed the Yellowstone expedition of 1873 under the direction of Col. David S. Stanley. The Western Survey photographs helped convince the federal government to preserve some wilderness areas as national parks.

The photographs of the Matthew Brady1 Studio include views taken on the battlefields of the American Civil War (1861–65), as well as portraits of notable Americans such as Abraham Lincoln, Walt Whitman, Frederick Douglass, and Gen George A. Custer. Many of the images were made by Brady's employees, including Alexander Gardner and Timothy H. O'Sullivan.


Copyright 1991 American Institute of Historic and Artistic Works