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History, Conservation, and Repair The history of photographic prints, and how best to care for and repair them.

Three Navajo @ Carlisle

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Old 11-17-2009, 03:35 PM
JRC. JRC. is offline
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Three Navajo @ Carlisle

JRC.
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Three Navajo @ Carlisle
Hi: The image I am attaching is of three young Navajo's at the time they entered into The Carlisle Indian School....Ca. 1880.
I had the glass negative professionally cleaned (slightly), a good copy made, and both put in a frame with archival glass. I am getting concerned that continuing to display it will make the negative disappear. I would hate to have that happen. There is no direct light hitting the frame but the room does have 3 windows in it so there is ample ambient light. The only solution I could think of was would be to drape a sheet of archival paper over the negative side....it would look odd, but it might protect the negative. The photo of the frame is included but it was hard to get a good shot due to the glass. I tend to worry, and hope someone can tell me if I am worrying unnecessarily. Thanks. I can't seem to attach the images so if they don't show up on this posting, they can be seen on the Image Help section. To be honest, I guess the answer doesn't require your viewing my images....so trying to see them may not be necessary. Thank you for any information you may share. Joanne

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Old 11-17-2009, 09:48 PM
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Re: Three Navajo @ Carlisle

JRC,

It would be important to be very sure what type of glass plate negative it is prior to stating. However, generally both the collodion and gellatin glass plate negatives have similar susceptibility to light. They are very slightly susceptible to damage. Avoid heavy outdoor lighting at all costs. Indoor lighting from incandescent or fluorescent light sources is simply unavoidable, and generally not very damaging.

The biggest concern to the negative is damage to the coating. But, most of the concern surrounds physical damage to the coating from abrasion, moisture, water, or chemicals. Trying to identify the type of coating is very difficult without the use of a conservator lab. However, it makes a difference in how you protect the coating. If you can simply protect the coating from strong sources of any type of lighting, that will help. Also, protecting it from abrasion, moisture, high humidity or chemicals is a must.

In the long run, we must decide the overall importance of the image. If you want it to last one or two generations, yet want to display it, then you will have to accept that some deterioration of both the plate and coating are inevitable. If you have already copied it and prefer to display a copy, then you could potentially preserve the original much longer. Again, some eventual deterioration is inevitable. You could contact a local conservator for more techniques for long term preservation. You may be able to find a conservator in your area by visiting the AIC web site here.
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Old 11-18-2009, 05:40 AM
JRC. JRC. is offline
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Re: Three Navajo @ Carlisle

Thank you. I think I am OK, as I did have it professionally preserved/conserved, and framed by the Conservator. There is no direct light, only ambient light...the frame is on the same wall as two of the three windows in the room, and the other window doesn't directly shed any light on that wall. I tend to worry, and because it is a great image, I would have felt awful if I destroyed it. The Conservator understood that I wanted to be able to display it, and I am sure, now that you have weighed in on the subject, that they did all that could and should have been done to protect it. I now feel that I can continue to display sans guilt. I really appreciate the information. Regards, Joanne
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