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Visual Resources as Archives: The Case of the Lane Brothers and Tracy O'Neal Collections
 

Visual Resources as Archives: The Case of the Lane Brothers and Tracy O'Neal Collections

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Peter J. Roberts presentation as part of the "Visual Resources as Archives: The Case of the Lane Brothers and Tracy O'Neal Collections" presentation. This is Part 1: From Office Records to Archives.

Peter J. Roberts presentation as part of the "Visual Resources as Archives: The Case of the Lane Brothers and Tracy O'Neal Collections" presentation. This is Part 1: From Office Records to Archives.

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  • I’m the first of our three part act. I will talk about the acquisition, history, and preservation of the Lane and O’Neal Collections. I Could not decide if this was best described as a circus or tag team wrestling.
  • or tag team wrestling.
  • Lane Brothers were clients of the University photographer’s family’s photo supply store. He knew the collection needed a home which at the time was exposed to extremes in temperature and humidity in a garden shed and car port. The approximately 250,000 negatives were purchased in 1985 for $22,000. As a staff employee in the Southern Labor Archives in 1987 I noticed we had a large number of organized labor photographs taken by Tracy O’Neal. I looked him up his number and phoned him. I spoke with his son Tracy O’Neal, Jr. He said his father’s negatives were in his basement. In 1988 He agreed to sell the approximately 31,000 negatives to the University for $12,000 and then he donated that money back to the University to help pay for the future preservation of the photograph collections.
  • The Lane Brothers began as ambulance chasers trying to scoop their competitors and sell their pictures to news outlets.
  • The Lane Brothers later specialized in advertising, insurance, real estate, publicity, and newspapers.
  • Tracy O’Neal specialized in labor unions, weddings, and the Shriners.
  • The Lane Brothers and Tracy O’Neal became Atlanta’s leading commercial photographers in the mid 20 th Century.
  • Their legacy is a visual chronicle of the economic, social, and political forces that transformed Atlanta from a regional city into the commercial capital of the South.
  • Being stored in a garden shed and carport, the original order of the collection was lost and so the archivists imposed an artificial order was imposed on the Lane collection. The envelopes in the collection was sorted into 5 series consisting of Corporate Bodies, Portraits, Events, Geographic Places, and Things.
  • The Tracy O’Neal negatives are arranged according to the filing system used by the creator which is alphabetically by year. In 1962 King Hardware is filed next to Jim King. In 1962 the alphabetical order begins again.
  • Here are the Lane and O’Neal Collections. Each 4X5 inch negative has been placed in a archivally stable polypropylene sleeve to help protect it from it’s acidic kraft paper envelope and fingerprints. The envelopes are housed in archival boxes. The collections were inventoried by student assistants to the envelope level using the creator’s descriptions. (WordPerfect mail merge. Finder text database. WordPerfect data later migrated to a mySQL database)
  • The collections were inventoried to the envelope level using the creator’s descriptions. For example, this envelope was labeled “First Negro Voting” The Library of Congress Subject Heading term Afro-American was added when the inventory was created but the newer natural language term of African-American needs to be added. It is therefore helpful to use synonyms when searching.
  • The file names are acronyms for the series they belong to.
  • There was not time or money to describe every photo. There was only enough money to preserve images with the highest archival value. Selection criteria were developed and the best images were selected for cold storage and scanning.
  • Early scanning limited by computer speed and storage. Todays PC 10X faster than in 1999. A 1.4MB b&w TIFF file (300 dpi of a 4X5 negative) could easily be copied to a researcher’s floppy disc. That size was more than adequate to create a 8X10 digital print and could be e-mailed. Scanning was used to provide enhanced access. It was not intended as a preservation tool because preservation of the digital files in the long run is more difficult and expensive than preservation of the original photos.
  • Scanning policy: Family members find their relative’s name in a Google search and they are more than willing to pay the $5 scan fee for a copy of a photo. By scanning on demand we don’t waste our time and our own dime scanning mundane portraits.
  • There is online access to 54,000 envelope descriptions and about 11,000 scanned photos.
  • Grant funding was used to select 10,000 negatives with the greatest archival value, the photo preservation fund proceeds were used to scan the images, and put them in cold storage. The most beneficial and economical use of funding would be cold storage.
  • Despite limited resources, the Lane and O’Neal collections are currently key word accessible on-line at the envelope-level description. Most of the negatives with the greatest archival value are preserved in cold storage and they can be viewed on the Web. They are among the most requested resource by our researchers. I believe the Lane Brothers and Tracy O’Neal would jump for joy to know the valuable visual legacy they have left for future generations.

Visual Resources as Archives: The Case of the Lane Brothers and Tracy O'Neal Collections Visual Resources as Archives: The Case of the Lane Brothers and Tracy O'Neal Collections Presentation Transcript

  • Visual Resources as Archives: The Case of the Lane Brothers and Tracy O’Neal Collections Part 1: From Office Records to Archives Visual Resources Association 2010 Conference March 19 th Peter J. Roberts [email_address]
  • Overview
    • Acquisition of Lane and O’Neal
    • History
    • File naming
    • Scanning policy
    • On-line access
    • Preservation
    • Physical and intellectual
  • Overview
    • Acquisition of Lane and O’Neal
    • History
    • File naming
    • Scanning policy
    • On-line access
    • Preservation
    • Physical and intellectual
  • Acquisition of Lane and O’Neal
  • History of Lane and O’Neal
    • The Lane Brothers began as ambulance chasers trying to scoop their competitors and sell their pictures to news outlets.
  • History of Lane and O’Neal
    • The Lane Brothers later specialized in advertising, insurance, real estate, publicity, and newspapers.
  • History of Lane and O’Neal
    • Tracy O’Neal specialized in labor unions, weddings, and the Shriners
  • History of Lane and O’Neal
    • The Lane Brothers and Tracy O’Neal became Atlanta’s leading commercial photographers in the mid 20 th Century.
  • History of Lane and O’Neal
    • Their legacy is a visual chronicle of the economic, social, and political forces that transformed Atlanta from a regional city into the commercial capital of the South.
  • Intellectual Preservation: Arrangement and Description
    • Artificial Arrangement (Lane Brothers)
  • Intellectual Preservation: Arrangement and Description
    • Original Order (Tracy O’Neal)
  • Intellectual Preservation: Arrangement and Description
  • Intellectual Preservation Arrangement and Description
  • Intellectual Preservation File Naming
    • LBGP === Geographic Places
    • LBGPF == .. Facilities
    • LBGPNS == .. Named Streets
    • LBCB === Corporate Bodies
    • LBCE === Corporate Events
    • LBMPE == Movie Premiere Events
    • LBP ==== Portraits
    • … .
  • Intellectual Preservation File Naming
    • LBCB024-004a translates as Lane Brothers, Coroporate Bodies (Series), Box 24, Envelope 4, scanned image “a”.
    • Leading zeros are necessary for computer file listings.
  • Physical Preservation Selection for Scanning and Preservation
    • Not all photographs
    • are equal
    • Handout
    • Selection for cold
    • storage and scanning
  • Selection for Scanning and Physical Preservation Street scenes and buildings are the most requested
  • Selection for Scanning and Preservation Second most requested are people (politicians, celebrities and family members)
  • Selection for Scanning and Preservation Third most requested are events
  • Scanning constraints
    • Early scanning limited by computer speed and storage costs.
    • Todays PC 10X faster than in 1999.
    • 5.25 floppies were still being used.
    • A 1.4MB b&w TIFF file (300 dpi of a 4X5 negative) could be copied to a researcher’s floppy disc, was more than adequate to create a 8X10 digital print and could be e-mailed.
  • Scanning
    • Constraints
    • Access not
    • preservation
  • Scanning Policy
  • On-line access
  • Physical Preservation
    • Negatives are made of cellulose acetate which becomes more acidic over time and channel after about 50 years.
  • Physical Preservation
  • Physical Preservation
    • Select channeled negatives were restored by the Chicago Albumen Works for about $90 each.
  • Conclusion