Approximately 300 photographs have now been stabilized and rehoused in more than 500 treatment hours, and while our 12-day photograph conservation seminar has come to an end, the experience our students gained will serve them forever in their careers ahead.
As our photograph conservation course began, we valued the unique historical and cultural significance of these photographs, part of the collection at Fisk University. The majority were solicited for W.E.B. Du Bois's unpublished work Black Man in the Wounded World and document African American service members in World War I. Other images portray early students and faculty of Fisk University and the former Central Tennessee College. The diversity of this collection allowed for a rich, exciting, and demanding learning experience.
All of the photographs were photographically documented and surface cleaned. Many others required extensive tear repair, inpainting, and humidification and flattening. While each student examined and stabilized 15-20 photographs with care and precision, they not only learned about the complexities of treating photographic collections. They also learned about the value of collaboration. The treatment of 300 photographs in two-and-a-half weeks was daunting. With each new challenge, students worked together, drawing on their varied preprogram experiences and the input of faculty, visiting lecturers, art historians, and scholars, while uncovering more remarkable stories. As the expertly conserved photographs were re-sleeved and boxed, many students reflected on lessons learned and the power of partnership.
Treating this significant collection from Fisk University was an
honor. We are pleased that the photographs are returning for future study and
scholarship. We are grateful to
Fisk University for providing us with this opportunity, not only to work on and
learn from such wonderful photographs, but also to practice and understand the
value of innovation and collaboration within the field of art conservation. No
matter what their discipline or chosen path in life, this is a lesson our
students will continue to put into practice.
Annabelle Fichtner, UD Class of 2019, Photographic Materials Seminar
Teaching Assistant, firstname.lastname@example.org
Colleen Walsh. 2018. Retracing Du Bois' missteps. The Harvard Gazette.
Accessed January 9, 2019.