The Preservation of Glass Plate Negatives

by Greta Bahnemann
Last Modified: 21 March 2012
Comments: 4
This paper covers the history of glass plate negatives, the storage of glass plate negatives, handling techniques and common conservation concerns, reformatting of glass plate negatives and the use of scanning and digitization as a means to create preservation and user copies.

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Excellent reference source. I had never seen glass negatives before, and now I am scared to death. These have never been stored properly, degradation has begun - some worse than others. I happen to live in a home built in 1877 in a small town in Kentucky. These are negatives that were found in a shed by a previous owner, and they just now came into my possession. Some prints, thank goodness, had been made of some of the negatives, but others have not.. I will have to start at the beginning of this research and go step by step. The negatives include the family who lived here, probably from the late 1800's, and does show various features of my home. There is also at least one indoor picture of the living room, and I am hoping there are more. Thanks
Somehow, my e-mail did not get attached to my comments below.
I believe I have a large dry print given to me by my grandmother in 1980. It is 18"x26". It is of an unknown waterfall possibly near TN. Does anyone know about the care and preservation of it and also a way that allows me to display it?
Until I read the above article I had no idea of how delicate glass plate negatives really are. I have had in my possession for the past ten years five of these negatives. They were taken during an observing run of the Moon from the sixty inch telescope atop Mt. Wilson in the San Gabriel Mountains above Los Angeles Ca. during May of 1919. Eerily similar to what the article mentioned, they were found by an individual in a dumpster at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory near Pasadena Ca. The envelopes they were found in had also sustained water damage as one of the bottom corners on each one was stuck to its plate. I have carefully removed only one from its sleeve and fortunately it appears to be undamaged. If I had known how delicate the photographic emulsion was I wouldn't have attempted even that. Now it is up to me to ensure these valuable plates are preserved for coming generations. I plan to contact the Mt. Wilson Observatory and see if they can help me to store the plates properly. If the job is beyond my capabilities then I will probably donate them back to the observatory itself for safe keeping