Rolling Along In Search Of the Archival

mulhouse043You have to be careful talking to ” archivalists “. Like ” curators ” and ” art directors ” the word is at once a job title and a description of a human type. To be fair, at least it is a clear warning.

I am not really game to speak to our local museum and preservation experts – I have had them speak at me before while in a commercial situation and it is an unnerving experience. When they are equipped with the machinery of government and access to a comfortable budget they become the closest thing to French aristocrats of the 18th century since Dr. Guillotine…

I’m going to head ’em off at the pass, so to speak, by consulting the excellent resources of the Internet. The Wilhelm Institute is as authoritarian as it gets and they don’t have sound on their site. So I can learn without being brayed at.

The problem is my lack of knowledge about colour slide storage in the past. I purchased hanging slide file pages decades ago to hold the results of amateur work…but in some cases the pages were PVC. They have started to degrade and sweat and there is a chance that they will damage the slides. We’re not talking the numbers that would constitute a newspaper’s archives, but I count about 7800 separate images there in the file cabinet.

The physical storage has been good – the hanging files put no pressure on the slides and the cabinet keeps them dark and cool. There has been the inevitable degradation of Agfa CT18 material – fading and dye loss – but that is the Agfa rather than the storage files. Fujifilm and Kodachrome have held up very well, Ektachrome less well, but quite readable.

I shall be passing the collection through the scanner and digitizing them but this will be done on a small basis – 6″ x 4″ in most cases – as much for the opportunity to put content notes into the JPEG file as anything. I need to identify the things that I remember, and I’m pleased to see that Kodak dated their slide mounts.

Hopefully I will get the slides into another set of pages on the same metal rack – but this time using polypropelene rather than PVC. Wilhelm has given it the okay. Expensive but that is the way it goes.

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