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Unaccessioned photos

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    • #135457
      David C


      I stumbled across 400-500 photos in our files that were loaned to us by several unknown people (1980-1990). We made copies of the originals. The originals were returned long ago. I have not found accession records for these photos. The copied photos are stored in 10-15 separate envelopes. The envelopes are identified by a group letter (“A”, “B”, up to “GG”). They are NOT stored with our other 3000+ photos which have accession paperwork and are marked with “H-LP” and a sequential number.

      I know it is usually best to keep provenance, however the photos in each envelope are unrelated to each other. Each envelope of photos was not from the same person.

      Should I give these 400-500 photos a proper photo number and physically add them to our other 3000+ photos?

      Should I make out a simple accession sheet that says the originals were loaned to us by unknown people and the photos we have are copies of the originals?

      All our accession work is done on paper.


      David Cranston, Curator
      Hadley-Lake Luzerne Historical Society
      52 Main St – PO Box 275
      Lake Luzerne, NY 12846

    • #135460
      Amanda Malkin

      Hi David,

      My inclination would be to give the photographs accession numbers, as you stated, with the details that these objects are copies and as much information as you know about their history. I might suggest that you integrate them into your photograph collection as groups based on the envelopes letter identification. It would also be good to keep the original envelopes, separately from the photographs, with identification (ancillary material related to an accession) that points to the photographs accession numbers, to give reference to how and why those photographs have been organized in the collection in the order that they have.


    • #135462
      David C

      Thanks Amanda,

      Your suggestions sounds logical. I would probably integrate them in groups (as you suggested). I do not like leaving something “unfinished”. If something terrible happened to me, someone would find an envelope partially filled with photographs.

      I usually give too much information when I post, so I’ll add a little more here. On each envelope is subject information about each photo along with a unique # to ONLY that envelope. The # is on the back of the photo. Photos in envelope “A” have “A1”, “A2”, etc. Envelope “B” have “B1”, “B2”. etc.

      I think it is best to have one numbering system across all our photos. If I integrate the photos, it would be very important to keep the envelopes. In the envelopes I would probably put a sheet listing the new photo numbers and say the photos can be found with our other photos. I, or someone else, might later find reference to the envelopes or photos. BY THE WAY… we also have the negatives in identical envelopes in a drawer next to the drawer that has the envelopes of 400-500 photos. I’ll keep the negatives where they are for now.

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