Cataloging photographs in our database, and the Andover-Harvard Yukon Expedition photographs

Contributed by Irene Gates

Since November, I’ve been focused on better organizing and rehousing the Peabody’s photographic collections (a rough extent estimate: 10,000 prints, 35,000 slides, 230 rolls of film, 500 glass plate negatives and 1,500 lantern slides). These consist of excavation, ethnographic and museum object photographs. Some were created during the course of the Peabody’s activities; others were donated to the museum. There are some wonderful images here, many unknown to Peabody staff members even. In keeping with the archives project’s mission to make the Peabody’s archival collections more accessible, contract librarian Mary Beth Clack has begun cataloging photographs in our Past Perfect collections management database. For many photographs, some type of bibliographic record such as a catalog card or an index already exists, so adding a record to the database is a question of transcribing and consistently formatting existing information. Work duty students and I have been scanning photographs so that a digital image can then be attached to the catalog records, which are then easily published online via our Past Perfect web portal. In addition to the benefits of making these publically available, cataloging them in the database makes them infinitely more findable for staff members.

L-28-28. Fairbanks, Alaska. Snapshots of Chena Slough, streets and houses. 7/30/44
L-28-28. Fairbanks, Alaska. Snapshots of Chena Slough, streets and houses. 7/30/44

Mary Beth is currently working on the 1944 and 1948 Andover-Harvard Yukon Expedition print photographs. These approximately 1,500 images document the archaeological and geobotanical expeditions carried out jointly by the Peabody and Harvard University (and funded by additional sources, including the Wenner-Gren Foundation) in parts of the Shakwak and Dezadeash Valleys, in southwestern Yukon. The photographs, taken by Fred Johnson, Hugh Miller Raup and John H.H. Sticht, are mounted on stiff paper, typically two to a page, with typewritten captions below each image. Many of them, in addition to being important documentation of the expeditions, are very beautiful. Included here a few examples. The first batch of records have just been published online, and more will be added soon: please browse them here.

Example of an Andover-Harvard Yukon Expedition photographs page, with images from 1944.
Example of an Andover-Harvard Yukon Expedition photographs page, with images from 1944.
L-25-5. Collecting Primulas on muskeg between beaches west of Mile 1020-21. Near Pine Creek Camp. Alaska Highway. 6/23/44.
L-25-5. Collecting Primulas on muskeg between beaches west of Mile 1020-21. Near Pine Creek Camp. Alaska Highway. 6/23/44.

For more information about the Yukon project, see its publication: Investigation in Southwest Yukon, by Fred Johnson, Hugh Raup and Richard MacNeish, 1964

The Temporary Archivist position is supported by a generous grant from the Oak River Foundation of Peoria, Ill. to improve the intellectual and physical control of the institute’s collections. We hope this gift will inspire others to support our work to better catalog, document, and make accessible the Peabody’s world-class collections of objects, photographs, and archival materials. If you would like information on how you can help please contact Peabody director Ryan Wheeler at rwheeler@andover.eduor 978 749 4493.

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