Photos, Photos, Photos

While this is my first post, I’ve been at the American Truck Historical Society (ATHS) for some time now. And my work has been quite eye opening so far…

The first day there, I was given the opportunity to sit in on a board meeting. ATHS is large, so they have board members from across the U.S. Each member can then join a committee of their choosing. (Archival, fundraising, etc.) It was nice to see how other museum entities functioned with their boards. ATHS is quite different though because the majority of their board are or were truckers, so sometimes it can be a challenge with conflicting ideas based on personal interest and professional need.

My main project so far has been helping to organize the ATHS’s White Photo Collection. The White family began the ATHS, so the majority of the photos were passed on from them. This task seems so large, but I really enjoy the work of organizing and making sense of the collection. There are about 130,000 photos in this particular collection, and it is the largest collection the ATHS possesses. Ultimately, the idea is to digitize the collection so members can search an online database for the pictures. Also, most of the pictures are in stage one degradation (vinegar smells!), so organization and storage needs to happen rather quickly.

In the board meeting I participated in the members were discussing digitizing the collection and then possibly destroying the collection in an effort to save time and money for future storage facilities. To me this seems horrible, but I guess if you don’t have the money? What do you fellow interns think?



2 thoughts on “Photos, Photos, Photos

  1. Tony O'Bryan

    Archivists seem to tell us two conflicting things; first they are out of room for storage and second they do no trust digital technology to last for centuries. I’m with Roy Rosenzweig on this one. I think we historians must embrace the new technologies and perhaps more importantly, participate in their creation. Digital history is the way forward for now. That certainly seems to be the case if you want employment in the field of public history. But yeah, destroying anything historic, or any type of archive, of historic value makes me cringe. I have hard time disposing of even the bad photographs on my cell phone.

  2. Natalie Walker

    It seems like there must be a way to fundraise or petition potential donors for funds in order to preserve a collection. As a History major I am so focused on the past that I often forget than in 100 years or so people are going to be studying us. All the things that seem so ordinary to us now will be fascinating for undergraduate/graduate/professors interns someday. If you think of it in this way, it seems incredibly important to preserve our sources. If libraries, archivists, and museums stopped preserving things because they did not have the funds, how we would work on historical research now? 100 years from now, the people researching our everyday lives are going to want primary sources.


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