Learn how the Motion Picture Preservation Lab at the National Archives is preserving and providing access to military films created by Defense Visual Information Center.
Ansel Adams , “Evening, McDonald Lake, Glacier National Park, Montana”
The mount and mat of this Ansel Adams photograph required conservation treatment for the photo to be safely displayed in “Making Their Mark: Stories Through Signatures”, currently on exhibit at the National Archives in Washington, DC. The mount was surface cleaned, and in this image the lifting edge of the mat is consolidated with wheat starch paste. While the photo is the star, the supporting actors—mount and mat—- are important players when it comes to keeping the object safe and stable.
(RG 79-AAE-06, Evening, McDonald Lake, Glacier National Park, Montana, photograph by Ansel Adams)
Humidification Dome … Different than the Thunderdome!
The Paper Lab in St. Louis regularly uses several methods of humidification to flatten damaged or folded records, but the humidification dome is currently the most effective for the Lab. The large chamber allows for high capacity humidification whether we are working with records damaged in the 1973 fire or documents that were stored rolled or folded. Tubing connects an ultrasonic humidifier which pumps moisture into the sealed dome. Documents lay on blotter paper inside the dome to help absorb moisture and protect the documents. Humidification times vary depending on the type of paper being humidified, but we are able to humidify regularly hundreds of sheets over the course of a day. Student intern Emily Thompson is seen here laying out and monitoring the humidification or records.
THE FACES OF PRESERVATION (SERIES): Keith Owens, a Preservation Technician in the Reformatting Unit for the National Archives at St. Louis finds his creative outlet through teaching families to grow fresh vegetables.
My department is responsible for digitizing and microfilming military and civilian personnel records that have been deemed PEPs (Persons of Exceptional Prominence) as well as highly used records that supplement records damaged or destroyed in the 1973 fire. My main focus is on microfilm preservation, which is the only true archival standard of document reformatting. With microfilm, all a person needs is a light source and something to magnify the image to glean the information one is seeking. If a person has a digital image on a floppy disk or DVD, there are a number of technical factors that have to be met before an image is viewed. In producing and performing quality control on microfilm, I focus on minute details that will impact the quality of the microfilm for the next 500 years. The passion that I have with the quality of microfilm is also the same level of passion that I have outside the workplace - helping people learn to garden for themselves.
I started growing seeds after my aunt gave me a package of zinnias when I was in kindergarten. I was amazed to see how the plants grew and that if you pinched off the flowers, two more flowers would take its place. At the same time, my grandmother taught me about wild edibles that grew in the woods, along country roads, and around her house. She lived through the Great Depression and told me that I needed to know what I could and couldn’t eat just in case another depression happened. This was foundational to my passion for plants later in my life.
My love for plants did not take off until I bought my first house after college and I started to landscape and grow a small garden. As my passion grew, so did the plants. Currently, I have 128 rose bushes in addition to a wide range of flowering plants that draw tons of hummingbird and honey bees.
For the past 4 years, I have been leading garden clinics at Lowe’s near my home. Some of the topics I teach include fertilizers, container displays, square foot gardening, rose care, organic gardening, lawn & landscape care, and wild edibles. It is not uncommon for people at Lowe’s to see me pick off flowers or leaves and eat them! I have created landscaping designs for hundreds of people, several schools, and civic organizations. This past fall, I was given an opportunity over the winter to use a greenhouse to grow seeds for a farm in Southern Illinois. This opportunity has exploded into a “budding” non-profit organization called “Seeds for Changing Lives”. This organization’s focus is “Teach a man to fish, and he will eat for life … teach a man to plant a seed, and he can feed the world!” I ask big box stores to donate “expired seeds” (Flowers, Vegetables, and Herbs) so I can distribute them to food pantries, churches, and community gardens. I also supply garden clubs, high school FAA programs, and elementary schools with seeds so they can grow plants and sell them as a fundraising opportunity. Finally, I give clinics to people at food pantries, churches, community gardens, and elementary schools on how to grow food from seeds. Afterward, I present the attendees with seeds to choose from so they can start their own garden. I stress that one can garden even if you are living in an apartment, renting a house, or own property.
Just like my detailed work at the National Archives at St. Louis of reproductions of military and civilian personnel records for veterans, their families, and the public at large, I have the same passion for helping people learn to grow fresh vegetables for themselves, their community, and the world!
Film Preservation 101: Is Restoration the Same as Preservation?
The new exhibit “Making Their Mark” opens at the National Archives in Washington, DC on March 21. The exhibit invites visitors to look at a signature, and imagine the moment the document was signed, and realize how each one has made its mark on our American narrative. Some signatures are famous, some show the strength of numbers, and others reveal what was going on in the world around them. We get a look into August 1799 Philadelphia with this document treated in the conservation lab for Making Their Mark: a petition signed by employees at the U.S. Mint, promising to return to work once the yellow fever epidemic passed. (Record Group 104, Records of the U.S. Mint)
Did you watch the Oscars on Sunday? Did you know that NARA holds several Academy Award winning and nominated films in our collection? Over the past several years we’ve partnered with the Academy Film Archive to restore and preserve these titles. With The Marines at Tarawa, a documentary short award winner from 1945 was collaboratively preserved between NARA and the Academy and recently scanned in HD.
PEP (Person of Exceptional Prominence) Spot Light: John Coltrane (September 23, 1926 – July 17, 1967)
Legendary jazz performer and inductee to the Jazz Hall of Fame, John Coltrane is one of the most dominant figures that has influenced generations of jazz musicians. Prior to his association with musical greats like Dizzy Gillespie, Johnny Hodges, and Earl Bostic, John Coltrane entered military service in 1945 and played in the Navy jazz band while stationed in Hawaii.
When Coltrane entered military service, all personnel were required to have a chest x-ray as part of their induction requirements. Within John Coltrane’s record, one such x-ray exists. As the reformatting staff of the Preservation Programs at St. Louis scanned his military record for public use, his x-ray was scanned also. There are several preservation reasons why x-rays are scanned. First, the x-ray is part of Coltrane’s file, and thus an integral part of his historical record. Secondly, providing a scanned image eliminates the need for a user to wear clean gloves so no oils from their hands would transfer onto the silver emulsion of the x-ray. Thirdly, the x-ray base is cellulose acetate film (a.k.a Safety Film) which decomposes over time letting off gases that smell like vinegar, hence the commonly used term “vinegar syndrome”. Vinegar Syndrome occurs when acetic acid is released from the acetate based film leading to the vinegar smell. This deterioration makes the plastic film base brittle, buckle, shrink, and liquefy. Keeping the film in a controlled environment helps reduce the continuation of the base’s degradation. Lastly, the x-ray can be scratched easily if not handled appropriately.
On occasion, the x-rays are digitally enhanced so the image is clearer, and in doing so, helps the researcher and improves public access. These documents and x-rays are placed on DVDs so researchers can access exact replicas and prevent damage to the original document.
Records recovered from the USS Peary, a World War II ship sunk Feb. 19, 1942. Can they be separated or not? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7FVsnbDKYM0&list=PLugwVCjzrJsX9G6laYxKU1Cc9w_eWgqlT&index=5