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Understanding the media formats present in a collection allows for better housing, conservation, and reformatting. Photographic materials like prints, transparencies, and glass plate negatives are stored with paper collections, but require additional care and specialized handling.



Photographic collections are a unique subset of our larger archival holdings. These materials bridge the worlds of paper-based collections and audiovisual collections, and have commonalities with both. All photographic materials have specific frailties and modes of decay, although prints have much in common with paper deterioration, and negatives and slides will share many characteristics with motion picture film. The diversity of photographic processes can be overwhelming, but understanding the characteristics of deterioration of different formats is an important foundation of handling photographic collections.  This familiarity will be valuable in evaluating the overall condition of these collections and will assist you in identifying preservation priorities.

This session will help you:

  • understand the materials and structures that make up photographic collections;
  • explore the interaction of component materials and the role of external factors on deterioration;
  • learn what to look for when evaluating the general condition of prints and negatives;
  • identify additional resources to learn more about the mechanisms of deterioration.

Additionally, this session lays some of the groundwork necessary for understanding the deterioration of audiovisual collections.





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