Since 2006, October has been designated American Archives Month to raise awareness about the value and work of archives and archivists. To celebrate, we are sharing information about work we do to help archives in the area. Check back later in the month for resources available to archivists!
Shown is a panaramic photographic print of University of Omaha Students from 1921, After Treatment Image
A couple of years ago, we were approached by Amy Schindler, the Director of Archives and Special Collections at the Dr. C.C. and Mabel L. Criss Library at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, about treating some panoramic photos from the University Archives. They included photos of students and faculty from the 1920s as well as the football teams from the 1920s and ‘30s, back when the football team was known as the Cardinals. Then known as Omaha University, the school was located at N. 24th St. and Pratt St. before moving to Dodge Street in 1938.
The photographs had typical damage for their age and size. Because the photos were long panoramic prints, most of them had been rolled for storage which created cracks in the emulsion layer and caused the paper to keep curling up. Many had tears in the paper supports as well as deteriorated edges, and all had a coating of dirt, grime, and tobacco residues.
University of Omaha Football Team 1932, Before Treatment
Each photo was surface cleaned using dry cleaning methods such as vacuuming and erasing with cosmetic sponges. The ones that were curled were carefully unrolled and weighted at the corners. Once the front and back were dry cleaned, the ones that were stable enough were wet cleaned with enzymatic solutions on cotton swabs.
Surface Cleaning Photo with Cotton Swab
Once cleaned, the photos could be humidified and flattened under glass weights. Tears were repaired on the back with Japanese paper and appropriate adhesives. A few that had damage to the photo emulsion were toned using suitable materials. For storage, they were then placed in Mylar L-sleeves so they could be protected and the images could be easily and safely handled.
University of Omaha Football Team 1932, After Treatment
Now stored in individual folders within an acid-free, lignin-free box, the photographs are better stabilized for long-term preservation. From here, they will be stored away from the damaging effects of light and relative humidity, but can also be easily accessible for information and research.