University of Rochester

Preservation Grants Secure Future for Precious Library Holdings

October 7, 2003

More than $300,000 will be spent on preserving glass-plate photographic negatives and prints, spoken recordings, paper music scores, and other historic items in the latest round of state funding benefiting the University of Rochester Libraries.

Work will begin immediately on parts of three collections held at Rush Rhees Library: Ward's Natural Science Establishment Collection, the Fairchild Collection, and the University Archives. Several thousand copy negatives, contact print copies, and new archival masters will allow for more public access and improved protection for valuable originals.

"In the Rare Books and Special Collections Library, we have tens of thousands of historic photographs on unstable film bases and acidic photographic paper in need of preservation," said Richard Peek, department director. "The money and work invested in these historic items will ensure their longevity and make them accessible to the public." Rochester's Museum Photographics will serve as the vendor for the project.

Since 1989, the department has received grants for nearly 50 different preservation projects totaling $3 million.

Papers and history about Ward's Natural Science Establishment, a successful Rochester business and supply house for natural science exhibits worldwide, detail the exploits of Rochester native and world traveler Henry A. Ward beginning in the 1860s. He promoted the study and teaching of natural science in America, and taught at the University. William C. Gamble, a University benefactor, was president of Ward's from 1962 to 1980 and donated many materials.

The Fairchild Collection contains thousands of documents and other materials from geologist Herman LeRoy Fairchild, who was interested in many fields both academic and civic. He was a professor of geology and natural history at the University from 1888 until his retirement in 1920, and professor emeritus until his death in 1943. An exhibit of selected Fairchild photographs, showing his early use of the camera to document how glaciers carved the terrain of Western New York as well as the changing face of Rochester, go on display in the Rare Books and Special Collections Library starting Oct. 10.

A project to preserve unique spoken-word collections also has been funded. The re-recording work, which involves the re-recording of almost 900 hours of conversations and lectures, will take place at Columbia University recording studios and will include the Rochester Oral Jewish History Project (originally recorded in 1976); the Rochester City Club lecture series from 1961 to 1968 with talks by anti-war activist Dr. Benjamin Spock, Israeli Prime Minister Abba Eban, and historian Alistair Cook, among others; and interviews with 20th-century composers from Sibley Music Library's Ruth Watanabe Special Collections from 1970 to 1988.

The latest grants also will support the Greater Rochester Asian Community History Project and the deacidification of thousands of acidic music scores from the Sibley Library collection. Funds for these preservation projects are made possible by the New York State Library's Division of Library Development to benefits libraries and other organizations engaged in efforts to preserve research materials. Funds to support the Greater Rochester Asian Community History Project were received from the New York State Documentary Heritage Program.




Facebook