February 16, 2009

Archiving the Archives

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Going through the Sun's photo archives

Despite spending five of the seven days in a week at The Sun’s office and being surrounded The Sun’s photographic history, we rarely take the time to look through the many thousands of negatives and prints that are neatly stored in the file cabinets and drawers around the Photo desk. Sure, every once in a while we’ll pull open a drawer to chuckle at the ancient computers (where ancient is circa 1990, of course), great hair cuts, and goofy glasses of the Cornellians of yesteryear, but what we appreciate most is the chance to peek through the great archive of photos that show Cornell through the decades.

Unfortunately, a lot of photos have been lost over the years so our archive only dates back to 1967, but that is still a solid 42 years of Cornell history all documented on film for us to sift through and enjoy.

Analog Archives: Just some of the negatives in our collection.Analog Archives: Just some of the negatives in our collection.

Realizing the importance of being able to search through and use photos from our analog archive, we’ve decided to attempt digitize some of the negatives that we think could be interesting or relevant to future generations. And since my time as Photo Editor is coming to a close and I will soon have far too much time on my hands, I was up for the challenge. So, after fixing up our negative scanner and picking a stack of negatives to be the very first to make it into our new digital collection, I set about scanning them in. More than 15 minutes later I had scanned on one strip. ONE STRIP. That’s six photos. This is going to be more of a challenge than I was anticipating, but nevertheless I intend to stick to it and scan in at least… oh let’s go for 100 strips of photos before the end of the school year. A modest goal, but hey, I’m a senior. I do want to be able to enjoy my last 97 days here!

It’s going to be a slow and pretty monotonous process, but I thought it would be a cool project to share with you all, because these photos are fantastic. Really. They capture so much of Cornell in such great quality. I really think you’ll all enjoy them. And for you alumni out there, look out, you just may appear in a photo one of these days!

Though I can’t guarantee the frequency of updates, I’m going to try my very best to find some great shots to share with you all and, if the mood strikes, I just might dig up an old article to go along with it.

Beginning with this one of the Students for a Democratic Society’s protest on February 17, 1969, one day short of 40 years ago. You can read the Sun’s story on it in our digital archive. Enjoy!

SDS Protest - February 17, 1969: From the Sun's photo negative archive. Photographer unknown.SDS Protest – February 17, 1969: From the Sun’s photo negative archive. Photographer unknown.