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.
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.
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.