Join us for Archives Fridays: “Preserving Family Photographs” on Apr. 15

Please join us for this month’s “Archives Fridays” presentation:

Preserving Family Photographs
Friday, April 15
12-1 p.m.
Dunbar Library 315

In celebration of Preservation Week, come and learn some helpful strategies on how to preserve family photographs at home. You will receive tips on how to organize, label, store, and display these priceless memories.

This free event is open to anyone – faculty, staff, students, and the public. No advance registration is necessary. Attendees are welcome to bring their lunch.

This presentation is the last in this year’s “Archives Fridays” brown bag lunch series, which took place throughout the academic year. To see the list of previous topics, please see our blog post announcing the series.

We hope to see you there!

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What is that blue card in the exhibit case?

If you have stopped by to look at our Victoria Theatre exhibit on the first floor of Dunbar Library, you may have noticed a little blue card in the corner and wondered, Oh, hey, what is that little blue card? Is that part of the exhibit?

Blue wool card in Victoria Theatre exhibit

Blue wool card in Victoria Theatre exhibit

Blue wool card in Victoria Theatre exhibit (indicated by red arrow)

Blue wool card in Victoria Theatre exhibit (indicated by red arrow)

The cards are usually known as Blue Wool Fade Cards, Blue Scales Textile Fading Cards, sometimes simply Blue Wool Cards, or some variation thereof. The card’s purpose is to help us gauge the potential for light damage to materials in a particular case or area.

Have you ever moved a stack of papers on your desk and found that a colorful sticky note that was halfway under the papers now has a noticeable “line” where the previously covered-up part is darker than the part that was exposed? Or taken a framed, matted photograph off the wall and out of its matte and noticed that the portion that showed through the “window” of the matte is faded, compared to the edges that were covered by the matte?

These are commonly encountered examples demonstrating the damaging effects that light can have on materials. Light exposure can cause fading, a damage that we can see with our eyes, but in some materials it can also damage an item’s physical and chemical nature as well. Both natural light (sunlight) and artificial (electric) light can have damaging effects. The duration and intensity of the exposure also factor into the amount of damage caused.

To get a sense of the amount of light damage to which an area is exposed, we place one of these Blue Wool Cards into the case, with part of the card exposed and part of it covered up. We check the card periodically — in this case, we’ve been checking it weekly — to see which, if any, of the colored cloth swatches on the card are fading. The different swatches provide a sort of scale (conforming to ISO 105-B01), with the lighter swatches being more susceptible to light damage, and the darker ones on the other end, less so.

You know they say a photograph is worth 1000 words, so here are two photos to compare how the card in our exhibit case looked on the day it was installed (Feb. 9th, top image), versus how it looks today (April 6th, bottom image):

Alumni case fade strip, Feb. 9, 2016

Alumni case fade strip, Feb. 9, 2016

Alumni case fade strip, Apr. 6, 2016

Alumni case fade strip, Apr. 6, 2016

Some light damage is clearly visible in the bottom photo on the right-most color swatch. Notice how the top of the swatch has faded, losing some of its blueness. This tells us that even in a short 2 months, light damage is possible. (We have been checking every week since February 9th, and as a matter of fact, this strip was showing signs of fading after only 1 month!)

There are a lot of scientific factors to be considered when judging the usefulness of this data — such as how the fade-susceptibility of that particular wool swatch dye corresponds to the fade-susceptibility of actual archival materials — but you get the idea!

And how you know what that little blue card is for!

For more a much more detailed and scientific explanation of why archival materials must be protected from light damage, see the Northeast Document Conservation Center (NEDCC)’s leaflet 2.4: Protection from Light Damage.

Blue Wool Cards can be purchased from most archival and museum suppliers, for example Hollinger Metal Edge or Gaylord.

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Holocaust Oral Histories Now Available Online

We are pleased to announce that the Emmanuel Ringelblum Collection of Oral History Memoirs of the Holocaust (MS-215) has recently been digitized and is now freely available online, anytime, through the Wright State University Campus Online Repository, CORE Scholar.

The digitized collection consists of audio-taped interviews with accompanying typed transcripts of 34 Dayton-area individuals who were survivors of the Nazi Holocaust. Not all of the interviewees were incarcerated in concentration camps, but each had his or her life greatly altered by the Nazi regime.

For a complete listing of the contents of the Ringelblum Collection, please view the collection’s finding aid (PDF).

This digital project has been a collaborative effort between the University Libraries’ Special Collections & Archives and the University Libraries’ Digital Services Department, which provided the digitization, metadata encoding, and uploading of digital content to CORE Scholar.

Please visit the Special Collections & Archives’ CORE Scholar page to browse additional digital collections.

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