linkage :: week 13

miss dageurrotype

Each Saturday morning, I’ve been going to the Sauk-Prairie Historical Society and working with fellow archivists to scan and analyze local glass negatives from the early 20th century.

I feel like the person in the movies who sits in a dimly-lit library at night, only it’s morning, paging through thick volumes of material and looking for that obscure clue. I’m Lisbeth Salandar tap-tapping into online databases. Last week, I signed an email “Sherlock Holmes”. Next time, maybe, Encyclopedia Brown or Inspector Clouseau.

I was sharing with my daughter some of the subject matter. In the very first image, there was a man crouching in the bushes with a child while his wife posed in the foreground with a bicycle. Yesterday, in what looks like a graduating class of six young women, way over on the edge, there is a man peeking from behind the skirt of a girl. Silas joked that this must have been the photo meme of that generation, the 1910’s version of planking. Glass negative bombing, if you will.

When I get home in the early afternoon, I sit down with a stack of books at my desk and my favorite online databases open on the computer, and I take out the notes from that day’s scans. I generally find a few hits and I get sidetracked by a lot of misses. By Sunday, my desk is covered in papers, they are my tracks in the snow. Arrows. Lists of names and places. Initials instead of whatever RMV means.

Next month, I hope to share the project on PortalWisconsin’s blog, where I am a new contributor. Jody Kapp wrote a nice introduction to the glass slide project HERE.

[The daguerreotype above was found behind another photo when I bought a vintage frame several years ago. More here.]

4 comments to linkage :: week 13

  • that photo with the man and child crouching in the bushes was very strange! i bet it’s fascinating looking through all that old history. i have been a slug this weekend getting over my sinus infection, not having the energy to do squat! okay, part of it was pure laziness, i admit :-)

  • “Silas joked that this must have been the photo meme of that generation, the 1910′s version of planking.”

    I had a good, hearty laugh over that line!

  • What a greata volunteer activity and perfect for you since you do such wonderful photography yourself. I’m delighted to see the old photo’s, half hidden characters and all. Hope you can share some of the most interesting ones as you work through the collection.


  • Ann

    What great old photos! I love looking at old photos.

    It’s interesting to think that, at one time, those photos were absolute treasures. They were the second thing someone would grab if their house was on fire (after their kids).

    But now the photos are orphans, abandoned to the kindness of the Historical Society volunteers.

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