The Bigger Picture: Visual Archives and the Smithsonian
Speak Softly . . .
This summer witnessed an exciting find by interns Shereen Choudhury and Rachel Midura, who identified Teddy Roosevelt in one of the broken glass plate negatives they were inventorying. This glass plate comes from a collection of images that have all been numbered, but have minimal descriptive records indicating what they may represent. Upon deeper investigation of collection items surrounding where this one would have been had it not been broken, I discovered a very exciting body of glass plate negatives documenting public appearances and travels of 26th President of the United States of America, Theodore Roosevelt.
[caption id="attachment_9780" align="aligncenter" width="346" caption="Theodore Roosevelt and group of unidentified men on a journey in the American West, date unknown, unidentified photographer, wet collodion negative, Smithsonian Institution Archives, Negative Number: MAH-49710."][/caption]
There are a number of approaches that could be taken in dealing with the cataloging and release of these images, but in the spirit of Election Week, I’m inclined to share them with the public and add value later. “Adding Value” is a concept I believe in strongly in terms of describing images. I can provide a valuable search term (Theodore Roosevelt), and make this image available immediately or I could solicit the aid of experts to research its content and provide a more complete record in due time. The most important thing to me is to say, “Hey! We found this thing, and if you type what you would likely type in a box to find this, here it is!” The bottom line is that this image can be managed with minimal descriptive information, and descriptive value can be added at a later time.
So here they are! Undated! Unidentified! Unclothed! The images have answered the door in their bathrobe, but do plan on dressing for dinner. Please enjoy this slideshow of Teddy Roosevelt images and also please forgive the lack of detail, that’ll come along in time.
FYI: The Smithsonian Institution has a rich history with Theodore Roosevelt. Learn about the Smithsonian-Roosevelt African expedition or his connection to the Smithsonian. You can also check out the records that have donned their formal wear at our Collections Search Center.