Technocolor Tarheels
June 10, 2009 9:15 AM   Subscribe

A View To Hugh. After Hugh Morton's death in 2006, the widow of North Carolina's most prolific photographer donated his entire collection, half a million transparencies, photographs, and negatives, to the North Carolina Collection at UNC. The "A View to Hugh" blog details the work of the team of archivists who are organizing and digitizing the collection.

The blog highlights Morton's gorgeous photography, of course (even if he had a few tricks up his sleeve), but perhaps the most interesting part of the blog is its use of crowdsourcing to identify the subjects of photos.
posted by Horace Rumpole (6 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Very keen, especially the post about his tricks. It's a shame the images aren't larger.
posted by filthy light thief at 9:44 AM on June 10, 2009

Great tricks, Shug.
posted by the cuban at 10:02 AM on June 10, 2009

As an archivist, I'd like to say that this is a good blog for several reasons.

First, it highlights an important collection, which increases the odds people will actually use it.

Second, it gives insight into what archivists actually do, which few people seem to understand.

Third, it uses plenty of images, which really interest people, and not so many words, which often do not.

And, as the poster mentioned above, the use of user contributions to uncover more information about the collection (while still processing it) is a great idea.
posted by elder18 at 11:13 AM on June 10, 2009 [1 favorite]

Like elder18 said, this really gives a great sense of how it feels to work a photography collection. I was struck by the quote: There were some nice scenic shots of Denali and glaciers, but mostly what I remember are endless miles of pipeline

Yeah, it can get tiring looking at photos of pipelines all day, and you can get sick of it. I described a photo collection that had to with forestry. Needless to say, there were lots of pictures of trees. I found myself sitting there all day, looking at a photo, reading the back of it (thank god someone wrote the names of trees on the back), and then typing into the finding aid "Photo of white pine." repeat, repeat...

I felt like the Monty Python "How to Identify Trees" sketch: The Larch. The Larch. The Larch!

Another series of pictures had the Vanderbilt family with their dogs and horses. The dogs were identified by name on the first few photos, and it being the first collection I did, I described the hell out of that thing. So I had descriptions like "Mrs. Vanderbilt, Fluffy and Fido." But as I went on, I found out all the dogs weren't identified, so I found myself writing descriptions like "Mrs. Vanderbilt, Fluffy, and an unidentified dog."

It's weird and fun, I got a sense of it reading through this blog, when you're working a collection you get to know these people, recognize them, and follow their ups and downs through life. It can feel very voyeuristic.

Great blog, great post.
posted by marxchivist at 12:18 PM on June 10, 2009

Oh yeah, it would be nice if the images were larger. I guess there's this.
posted by marxchivist at 12:21 PM on June 10, 2009

The Fall 2007 UNC Windows [pdf] magazine has an article on processing this collection.
posted by tellurian at 11:19 PM on June 10, 2009

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