Processing archives

You may know what archives are and what an archivist is, in an abstract sense. But what are they, exactly? Archives can exist in a business, organization, nonprofit, federal, state, or municipal government, a university, historical society, museum, or for just a single individual. Archives contain the documents created by and relating to these entities which have enduring value. They can be used by researchers in creating histories, genealogists documenting their family trees, people needing practical information such as where exactly their property line is, are they entitled to certain benefits, the location of miners trapped in a collapsed tunnel, or an understanding of our present with that ever important connection to the past. Continue reading


Rosa Parks and Pancakes

Rosa Parks, 1956 Library of Congress

Rosa Parks, 1956
Library of Congress

I’ve never had aspirations to be a food blogger, but where cooking or baking intersect with history and archives, I’ll dabble a little.

The Library of Congress recently opened a collection of Rosa Parks’s archives. While most of us know what she did for the Civil Rights movement, most probably do not know a whole lot about her personal life or who she was as a person. This collection shines some light on Rosa Parks, the woman. Continue reading

The Tintype

“No other form of photography does as much to convey the social and economic upheavals of the late 19th century.” – Karen Rosenberg

Unidentified soldier in uniform, circa 1861-1865. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

The tintype, a form of wet-plate photography, gets very little love from photo historians. Read just about any general history of photography, and you might find them wedged under the ambrotype section. They could be described as the poor man’s daguerreotype, and that may explain their typical relegation to mere mention. However, tintypes were unique from daguerreotypes and ambrotypes in a few key ways and as such they had an important impact on Americans and the future of photography. Continue reading