Class of 1964 – Flashback to Madison College Days: Campus Life
Class of 1964 – Flashback to Madison College Days: Music
Class of 1964 – Flashback to Madison College Days: Fashion

A Look Back – Interview with Preservation Assistant Madison Whitesell

Madison Whitesell is a recent JMU graduate with degrees in art history and studio art. She began working in Preservation as a sophomore in 2015 and spent this summer working as a wage employee. This is her JMU Libraries story. “Madison, tell our audience a little bit about yourself and how you came to be a preservation assistant” I’ve been interested in art conservation since high school. When I first realized that I loved art history as much as I loved making art, conservation presented itself as a way to combine the academics of art history with the hands on skills of making art. I heard there was a library preservation job available to students where you got to help repair books and I was immediately sold. I emailed Julia Merkel, Preservation Officer, and (politely) begged her to hire me.   “What are some of the major projects/highlights of your time here?” I’ve gotten to do some of the coolest things here; things I never imagined doing when I was first hired. Just the idea of repairing books for the rest of my life was exciting but I’ve also gotten to help plan, curate, and install library exhibitions, as well Continue reading A Look Back – Interview with Preservation Assistant Madison Whitesell

The Blackley Brownie in Focus

Written by Preservation Assistant Madison Whitesell. Brownie cameras gave birth to amateur photography in the early 20th century. This one from the Blackley Collection is a No. 2 Folding Autographic Brownie dating from 1917-1926 and it’s in especially great shape. First produced in 1900, early Brownies were made of cardboard and the cheap material allowed them to be sold for only $2.00. Ours is a later edition made from aluminum and would have been costlier but longer lasting. Because these new cameras were inexpensive and small they could be used by anyone and were even marketed towards children. Soldiers often took them overseas because they were easy to carry and use in the field. No one had never seen anything like them and incredible accessibility of this new photography tool revolutionized news and the way people saw the world.

Preservation Puzzles: Creating Custom Housing

Written by: Preservation Assistant Madison Whitesell. Three dimensional objects in the Blackley Collection were processed in Preservation for long term storage this Summer. Among these objects are: an early Brownie camera, a hand-colored milk glass plate photograph, a ruby glass souvenir creamer from the 1893 World’s Fair, and a metal documents canister c.1890. Creating custom mounts for the artifacts helps extend their lives and keeps them from damaging each other in storage. Objects must be separated from their neighbors not only to prevent abrasion and breakage but also to minimize the chemical reactions that speed up decay. Materials age at different rates, and any losses such as flaking paint or rust from corrosion are contained within each custom box or folder.

In short, we consider him diseased from head to foot

While the summer is generally less hectic on campus due to fewer students, less traffic, etc., here in Special Collections we have been busy, busy, busy growing our collections in materials related to local history. A new acquisition we are really excited about relates to the Richard Stephens (1831-1890) family of Melrose, just north of Harrisonburg on Rt. 11. The collection itself is comprised of hundreds of miscellaneous documents, correspondence, receipts, deeds, and indentures and spans several generations of the Stephens/Dovel/Yount families of Rockingham County. Of particular interest, are several documents pertaining to Richard Stephens’ medical exemption from serving in the Civil War. We are spotlighting one such document today. But be warned – detailed descriptions of disease and oozy discharge await the reader.