There’s been precious little cataloging this week, as we’ve been working on an inventory of the 8 x 10 prints in the HRPE collection. The 8 x 10s from HRPE have been in cold storage since the 90s, when the cold storage room was installed, and have barely been touched by anyone since then. They lived in folders in drawers until about two weeks ago, when we began moving the folders into boxes and the boxes into cool storage to begin thawing out before being moved over to the library for a complete inventory. Many of the 8 x 10s have more information on the backs than the 4 x 5s do, which will allow us to better describe the images as we catalog them, going forward.
These prints have, like the rest of the collection, never been cataloged or inventoried to any degree beyond sleeving them and putting them into numerical order, but the end of last week found us in boxes of unsleeved materials. These photos are getting the “white glove treatment”, as the oils in bare hands can stain the surface. Sleeves mean that white gloves won’t be necessary in future and also makes them easier to handle — while gloves protect the photos, glossy surfaces and cotton gloves are, predictably, slippery together. In the process, we are also removing stray paperclips, and inserting detached cations into the sleeves with their photos, preventing future damage. We are also supplying the library with enough paperclips to last the next decade.
In going through these boxes, we got a chance to get a better overview all at once of the collection, and to see sections that our colleagues will be handling. It has also led, unexpectedly, to discovering a real prize.
Some time ago, through this blog, the library was contacted by a former HRPE employee, a stenographer in the office of Major W. R. Wheeler. At the beginning of this project Jay Moore, the library archivist, renewed the correspondence. Her name at the time was Virginia A. Boyd, and she is listed in the introduction to The Road to Victory, Major Wheeler’s history of the HRPE. Today we found a group photo with Major Wheeler and his staff — Miss Boyd is in the back row, third from the right. Now that we know the face to look for, perhaps we will find her in other pictures as well!