Andrew Dickson White Architectural Photographs Collection

McGraw Hall, Upper Tier Detail
George S. Bliss, Museum, McGraw Hall (detail of Top Tier, where A. D. White Photographs were displayed), 1885. Albumen Print Photograph. 5323, Archives Photograph Collection. #13-6-2497, Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections, Cornell University Library
Conservation & Preservation
Background Information
The A. D. White Architectural Photographs Collection was transferred to the Cornell University Library from the College of Architecture, Art and Planning in 1998. Prior to coming to the Library, the collection had a long history of use as an educational tool in architecture and art history classes, followed by periods of storage in several buildings in the College. The collection fell out of active use in the College when color slides took over the role of visual aids in the classroom lecture setting. The collection was eventually placed in remote storage locations, first in the attic of Tjaden Hall, where it languished for many years without protective enclosures and endured extreme temperatures and fluctuating relative humidity. The collection was then relocated to the basement of Sibley Hall, and then to the basement of Rand Hall, both spaces without environmental control.
Decades in poor environments, lack of protective enclosures, physical handling over the years by students, and multiple moves have taken a considerable toll on the condition of the collection. Most photographs in the collection are mounted albumen prints dating before 1900; some later additions to the collection are mounted gelatin silver prints. While some albumen photographs retain their characteristic warm red-purple image color, many other photographs have yellowed and faded substantially, a direct result from exposure to high temperatures and fluctuating relative humidity. The physical damage to the collection includes heavy soiling, greasy fingerprints, broken and chipped mounts, severely warped mounts, and flaking and lifting emulsions. Some damage to the collection, particularly yellowing, fading and staining, is irreversible.
However, much of the physical damage to the collection has been greatly reduced through conservation treatment. The objective of the conservation component of the project was to stabilize the collection through conservation treatment and promote long-term preservation with an appropriate storage environment and enclosures. As a result of this project, this collection, for the first time, can be safely handled and used by researchers and staff.
More Information on the Conservation & Preservation
of the A. D. White Architectural Photographs

The A. D. White Project is funded by a grant from the
Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation
and by a gift from Mr. Patrick Gerschel.
The participation of the Cornell Insititute for Digital Collections
has been funded by a gift from Mr. Arthur Penn.

Information on this page written by Michele Hamill, Paper & Photograph Conservator,
Cornell University Library Department of Preservation & Conservation.