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Howard Burt, between 1851 and 1853, The California State Library

Project Goals

The main goals of this project were to preserve and to provide access to the cased photographs (daguerreotypes, ambrotypes, and tintypes) in the collections of The Bancroft Library and the California State Library. The preservation effort was undertaken to ensure the longevity of these documents as historical artifacts.

The access component followed the model established in the successful LSTA Honeyman Digital Archive Project by providing full, detailed descriptions of the collections, and Internet access to the digital facsimiles of the images, which are part of the California Digital Library's Online Archive of California.

The timing of the project coincided with the sesquicentennials of the 1849 gold rush and California statehood. Because of the central role of the daguerreotype in documenting the California gold rush and because of major exhibitions and publications focusing on gold rush era imagery, interest in these pictorial documents has been at an all-time high. This heightened popularity, however, raises serious problems for institutions with the responsibility of preserving these extremely rare artifacts. Their fragility and high value has made it necessary to curtail access by the general public.

It is hoped that this collaboration between the California State Library and The Bancroft Library will serve as a model for similar Online Archive of California collaborations in the near future. It is a goal of this project that the Online Archive of California's Digital Archive of Cased Photographs will eventually grow to include cased photographs held throughout the state.

The specific objectives of the project were:

  • The preservation treatment and rehousing of all of the Bancroft Library's cased photographs (estimated at approximately 300 items and later expanded to 440 items)
  • Preservation photography of these images in color and black & white
  • Full item-level descriptions for these objects
  • Creation of digital images of the cleaned and stabilized images, as well as documentary images taken during treatment
  • Creation of digital images of approximately 70 cased photographs selected from the collections of the California State Library
  • Full bibliographic access through USMARC catalog records at the collection or item level, as appropriate
  • Creation of a detailed Encoded Archival Description (EAD) finding aid for both Bancroft's cased photographs and those of the California State Library, with full item-level descriptions and linked images

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Last update 12/11/2006. Server manager: Contact
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