For some collections within the Graphic Arts Department, we do not catalog each item in the collection individually. Sometimes, it makes more sense to create one all-encompassing record that describes the collection as one entity to avoid redundancy in the catalog. These collections are still easily found in the online catalog, and they will usually have an itemized contents list or finding aid to help researchers make their way through them. However, sometimes these collections are important or visually interesting enough to warrant more. Many collections within Graphic Arts have been digitized and are available online and/or in GIGI (Daguerreotypes, Watch papers, etc.) But now, some collections will be available on the AAS website using the publishing platform of Omeka to create illustrated inventories where each item in a collection will be described in some detail.
The first collection to use Omeka to bring it to the light is the Society’s collection of fifty-six albumen prints of the Tuskegee Norman and Industrial Institute (now Tuskegee University) in Tuskegee, Alabama, and the surrounding area. The images depict the people and buildings that made up Tuskegee Institute during the 1890s. Portraits of students standing before different halls and dormitories and in the classroom show the day-to-day life on campus. Other images show the locals who descended on the Tuskegee campus annually for the Tuskegee Negro Conference, where they learned of new advances in farming. The photographs show life off campus as well. Scenes depicting the “Black Belt” and other views outside of the college show the daily life of African Americans in Alabama near the turn of the century.
This is just the first of the illustrated inventories that we are creating. Inventories featuring a collection of photographs of Worcester’s fairgrounds and of the silhouette collection are in the works and will be available online soon!