Subway and Street Improvements Project Digitization Taking Shape

By:  Angela Vanderbilt

Digitally preserving eighty-year-old negatives and prints for online access requires clear guidelines and close attention to detail to ensure all information contained in the photographic records is captured. Such a project also requires careful organization of the physical collection so that all assets may be accounted for through each stage of the project. Finally, close inspection of the digital rendering is necessary to ensure the highest quality of scanned images is obtained and preserved for future use.

Due to the unstable nature of the negatives, safe handling of the physical material is a priority both during the organization phase of the project at the Archives & Rare Books Library, as well as during the scanning phase at Robin Imaging Services. Proper handling will not only protect the physical condition of the negatives and prints, but of those handling them, as well! While organizing the collection, I wear cotton gloves to avoid contact with the negatives and a filtered mask to avoid breathing in any fumes that the negatives may be putting off as they deteriorate. I also use a metal spatula to lift and separate each individual negative. This allows me to create an itemized list of each asset in a spreadsheet, which will be used to generate the metadata that is required to build the online collections. It will also give us a final tally on total number of negatives and prints contained in the collection. Continue reading Subway and Street Improvements Project Digitization Taking Shape

Moving Along. . . in the Subway

By:  Angela Vanderbilt

Subway ConstructionDigitization of the Cincinnati subway and street improvement project prints and negatives began this week with three boxes containing 681 silver nitrate-based negatives delivered to Robin Imaging Services for scanning. Each negative will be carefully scanned by a photo technician experienced in handling silver nitrate negatives, using scanners that operate at low temperature levels to ensure the sensitive nitrate is not exposed to heat. Each negative will be analyzed during scanning to ensure the proper exposure settings are applied to capture the best detail possible when it is saved as a positive image.

Continue reading Moving Along. . . in the Subway

Subway Project: When Good Negatives Go Bad

By Angela Vanderbilt

The project is off to a great start after the first week, with progress made on identifying the percentage of nitrate negatives in the collection, meeting with Robin Imaging Services – the contracted vendor that will be digitizing the negatives and prints – and deciding on what metadata will be captured during scanning to build the online collections.

With help from Lauren Fink, ARB’s student worker, I gathered from archival storage the 32 boxes containing the City Engineer’s negatives and prints and began surveying the collection to determine the percentage of cellulose nitrate vs. cellulose acetate negatives present. Continue reading Subway Project: When Good Negatives Go Bad

Cincinnati Subway and Street Images Digitization Project

By:  Kevin Grace

Today’s image from the project is certainly an intriguing one: when the Rapid Transit Commission in Cincinnati went ahead with their intent to turn the Miami-Erie Canal route into a subway system, they hired a photographer to document every step of the project.  His images detailing the particular day, time, and street location of the subway construction in the 1920s form the bulk of our digitization endeavor.  He captured extraordinary exterior views of the canal bed being widened and deepened as tunnels were built, showing the streets and buildings along the route that is now Central Parkway in Cincinnati.  However, the construction also led to these buildings being damaged – cracks in ceilings, walls, and foundations in private homes and businesses, for which the owners were submitting claims for repairs and restitution.

Photographer for City Engineer

Continue reading Cincinnati Subway and Street Images Digitization Project

Cincinnati Subway and Street Project Grant Underway

By Angela Vanderbilt

Digital Archivist, Cincinnati City Engineer Digitization Project

Angela VanderbiltAs the month of October begins, so too begins a new project for the Archives and Rare Books Library – digitizing and making available on the web the collection of negatives and prints documenting Cincinnati’s early 20th century subway development and street improvement program. New projects often require new hands to help facilitate, and it is my pleasure to join this project as Digital Archivist, marking my own beginning as I strike out on a new project in a new city. Continue reading Cincinnati Subway and Street Project Grant Underway

UC Libraries Receive Grant to Digitize Historic Cincinnati Subway and Street Project Photographs

The University of Cincinnati Libraries were awarded a $60,669 Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) grant from the State Library of Ohio to digitize and make freely available on the Web the photographic collection of Cincinnati’s subway and street changes archive. Continue reading UC Libraries Receive Grant to Digitize Historic Cincinnati Subway and Street Project Photographs