Wednesday, October 24, 2007

LOCKSS for archives

I recently had a conversation with a colleague about collecting multiple copies of similar images -- how many were too many; was there such a thing as too many; what constitutes similar, et cetera. I mentioned that here in the Historical Image Collection, we do often have multiples of the exact same image, same format, same print size, even. Typically, we keep any instance of an image that contains additional (or different) information about the image content, its use, or its provenance. So, we're always eager to see donations of photos, even if we think we may have some of them already, because it means we may get new information about the picture itself.

Take, for example, the photo below. We have a copy of this already in the HIC, and although it has no information on the back of the print, we know that these gentlemen are Dean David Baird (left) and Dr. Howard P. Lewis (right), both towering figures in the history of the Medical School during the first and middle parts of the 20th century. We recently received a second copy of this exact photo from University News & Publications. Copy 2 brought with it information that radically altered the way I -- or anyone else -- might look at and interpret this photo. On the back, written in pencil, is the small notation:
July 10, 1942 / Taken night of activation of 46th General Hospital.
The 46th General was the all-volunteer unit based out of the University of Oregon Medical School which operated overseas, in Africa and Europe, during World War II. The photo notation took this image from one of two faculty members chatting in the Library foyer, to one of two men realizing that the war had finally come to Oregon. Even though I had seen this picture before, I saw Copy 2 with new eyes.

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