Indiana State Library’s Oversize Photograph Collection now available online and in-person

The Indiana State Library’s Oversize Photograph Collection is now arranged, digitized and described, making it accessible both physically and online via ISL’s Digital Collections. The project began in early 2017 with a survey of all existing oversize photographs and a plan to arrange them all in one location and then describe, digitize and encapsulate the photographs. Previously, the photographs were stored in three separate locations according to size, but this organization was both inconsistent and unsustainable. The collection was also treated as a catch-all location for other graphic materials, including clippings, maps, artwork and lithographs. To rectify the situation, the project also involved separating out all materials which could not be classified as photographs.

Divers in Steuben County.

Over the next two years, the photographs were meticulously arranged by subject to correspond with the new organization in the General Photograph Collection, which was undergoing its own cleanup and reorganization project. The smaller photographs were captured using a flatbed scanner, while very large photographs, such as panoramic photographs, were photographed using a DLSR camera before they were encapsulated in Melinex, archival-grade polyester film, for long-term preservation. The main challenge in working with oversize photographs is, naturally, their size. The large photographs are physically difficult to handle and are stored in even larger folders. Due to their size, the photographs were often rolled or folded in the past, which can pose new conservation challenges. The final stage in the project entailed describing the images individually and uploading them to the library’s online photograph collection. The themes of images in the collection vary, but some of the most prevalent subjects include portraits of notable people, groups and organizations, and aerial photographs of Indiana and images of state parks.

Woman’s Christian Temperance Union, 1883.

Hagenbeck-Wallace Circus portrait, 1921.

With the completion of the Oversize Photograph Collection project, nearly 600 photographs are now more accessible and usable than ever before, with 582 available digitally. The project has made physical control of the collection a reality, supported the collection’s longevity by reducing handling of the original photographs, and most importantly, profoundly increased access to the collection for users around the world.

This blog post was written by Lauren Patton, Rare Books and Manuscripts librarian, Indiana State Library. For more information, contact the Indiana State Library at 317-232-3678 or “Ask-A-Librarian.”

State library staff meet Governor Holcomb

On Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2017, staff from the Indiana State Library met Indiana’s 51st Governor, Eric Holcomb. After learning he was an American Civil War buff, Associate Director of Public Services Connie Bruder, Rare Books and Manuscripts Supervisor Bethany Fiechter and Rare Books and Manuscripts Program Coordinator Laura Eliason presented a Civil War carte de visite album commissioned by Governor Oliver P. Morton.

Bethany Fiechter shows Governor Holcomb a Civil War carte de visite album commissioned by Governor Oliver P. Morton.

The Governor Oliver P. Morton Civil War Soldiers Photograph Collection (P001) includes three carte de visite albums to perpetuate the remembrance of Indiana regiment officers. The portraits are arranged alphabetically by last name with notations indicating the name, rank, regiment and, if applicable, place of death.

L to R: Bethany Fiechter, Governor Holcomb, Laura Eliason and Connie Bruder.

For more information about Governor Oliver P. Morton, view our finding aid here. Interested in more Civil War photographs? The Rare Books and Manuscripts Division has made available over 80 photographs here.

This blog post was written by Bethany Fiechter, Rare Books and Manuscripts supervisor, Indiana State Library. For more information, contact the Indiana State Library at (317) 232-3678 or “Ask-A-Librarian” at http://www.in.gov/library/ask.htm.

It’s Our War, Too!: The WAC at Camp Atterbury during WWII

Ever wonder when women were first allowed to serve in the U.S. Army (besides nurses)? The answer is 1942!

Technician 5th grade Norma Boudreau and Master Sergeant Louis Dovilla with posters of Norman Rockwell’s Four Freedoms, July 12, 1943

Technician 5th grade Norma Boudreau and Master Sergeant Louis Dovilla with posters of Norman Rockwell’s Four Freedoms, July 12, 1943

With the United States embroiled in World War II, the Women’s Auxiliary Army Corps (WAAC) was established on May 15, 1942 as a noncombatant auxiliary to the army. The corps was renamed the Women’s Army Corps (WAC) upon its full incorporation into the army on July 1, 1943, enlisting each new recruit with the goal of “releasing a man from service.” Continue reading

Researching the Photograph Collection

Staff of the Rare Books and Manuscripts division recently finished re-processing its Photograph Collection and updated guide. The 93 box collection includes images from all 92 counties and is organized alphabetically by location or subject. The Photograph Collection was originally located in the old Manuscripts Reading Room. The natural light and fluctuating temperatures in the room were harmful to the photographs necessitating its move to the library’s temperature and climate controlled vault.
Picture Collection - Mss Boxes aerial view - with caption_edit

Since most of the library’s photographs are not cataloged, researching them can be a little tricky. The general Photograph Collection contains the bulk of the library’s photographs, but we also have specific photograph collections that include a name and call number. Most of these smaller photograph collections include a finding aid (or guide) that provides more specific information. Rare Books and Manuscripts finding aids are all located on the library’s Finding Aid Index page. Staff and patrons still rely on the Photograph Index cards for locating specific information about a particular image.

Picture Index_edit

The Photograph Index cards contain information about individual images found in both the library’s picture collections and in our printed material (i.e. books, pamphlets, etc.). The cards contain information that helps librarians retrieve the item. For images identified in the Photograph Index, the card will contain a location (Benton County) or subject term (Churches). The Photograph Collection also includes many portraits, which are organized by the subject term Portraits and then alphabetically by the individual’s last name. For images located in printed material, the card will contain the call number, title, and page number for the image.

Picture Index - card file example

Moving forward, ISL plans to digitize portions of the Photograph Collection, as well as some specific photograph collections, to upload into Indiana Memory. During the processing of the Photograph Collection, staff identified certain aspects of the collection to be digitized in the future. Stay tuned for updates regarding when these collections are available through Indiana Memory.

This blog post was written by Brent Abercrombie, Rare Books & Manuscripts Librarian, Indiana State Library. For more information, contact the Indiana State Library at (317)232-3678 or “Ask-A-Librarian” at http://www.in.gov/library/ask.htm.