Infinity (Winter 2002/2003 Volume 18, Number 2)

SAA Preservation Section Affinity Newsletter 18:2


The Newsletter of the SAA Preservation Section         Winter 2002/2003 Volume 18, Number 2

In This Issue:

From the Chair

It has been an exciting first few months serving as Chair of the Society of American Archivists' Preservation Section. I was asked to take the Chair position after Anke Voss-Hubbard, Archivist/Special Collections Librarian at Illinois Wesleyan University and longtime active member of the Section, was unable to complete her term as chair. In the days before the Annual Conference, I saw the strength of the Section in the assistance I received from former Chairs Diane Vogt-O'Connor and Sarah Talley Souther, as well as the members of the Steering Committee.

Our Section has a variety of challenges in the coming years: preservation of an ever-growing array of materials - the originals, materials con-verted to digital form, and born-digital materials in many formats. To ensure the preservation of the information held by all of these carriers, we must increase our knowledge, our visibility, and our scope of activity - even in a time of static or shrinking budgets.

How can we do this? Through the submission of program and preconference proposals for the SAA Annual Conference, for one very success-ful method. At the 2002 Conference, there were a near-record number of Preservation-related conference sessions. As you will see in Section Program Chair Linda Overman's article below, there have been another excellent set of program proposals submitted on a wide variety of topics for our upcoming conference. To add to the proposals already under consideration, there is a conference workshop on rights management issues in the digital age, which is currently under review for the 2003 conference, co-sponsored by the Preservation Section.

What else can we do? Utilize the Preservation Section Business Meeting for Updates and News Tips as well as section business. At a recent Ohio Preservation Council Meeting, it was suggested that we discuss the successes of State and Regional Preservation Groups as model cooperative activities - covering ways that states and areas not served by these groups can establish them. I hope to include this as a discussion topic at our business meeting in Los Angeles.

Another idea to increase the visibility, know-ledge and scope of our activity is to support Infinity. Please consider sending preservation news and announcements from your institution or company, as well as your own professional news, for inclusion in our Spring/Summer issue. I am excited about serving the SAA Preservation Section in the year ahead. I hope you share that excitement, and will work to continue this section's record of serving as a strong resource for its members. As you come up with new ideas for our section, please feel free to contact me at, or 800/848-5878, ext. 6071.

Preservation Section leadership

  • Thomas F R Clareson, CHAIR (OCLC Information Center)
  • Susan DuBois, MEMBER AT LARGE (The Conservation Center for Art and Historic Artifacts)
  • Cathy Lynn Mundale, CHAIR, EDUCATION COMMITTEE (Atlanta University)
  • Diane Vogt-O'Connor, CHAIR, NOMINATING COMMITTEE (National Archives and Records Administration)
  • Sheila McAlister, CHAIR, OUTREACH COMMITTEE (University of Georgia)
  • Elli Bambakidis, CHAIR, PUBLICATIONS COMMITTEE (Dayton & Montgomery County Public Library)
  • Linda Overman, CHAIR, PROGRAM COMMITTEE (Alabama Dept. of Archives and History)
  • Julie L. Graham, CHAIR, OUTREACH COMMITTEE & WEB LIAISON (University of California, Los Angeles)
  • Clark E. Center, Jr., NEWSLETTER EDITOR (University of Alabama)
  • Tom Connors (2000-2003), COUNCIL LIAISON (University of Maryland)

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The National Park Service Nitrate Film Reformatting Project

The National Park Service (NPS) provides stewardship for 385 sites that preserve, protect, and commemorate our nation's rich natural and cultural heritage. The system includes such well-known parks as Grand Canyon, Yellow-stone, and Great Smoky Mountains, but it also includes many of the monuments and memorials in Washington, D.C., as well as lesser-known sites such as Kamehameha the Great's Pu'uko-hola Heiau in Hawaii; the western town of Nicodemus, Kansas, settled by freed African-Americans following the Civil War; the coral reef and rain forests of the National Park of American Samoa; Congaree Swamp in South Carolina.

Three hundred nine NPS units possess museum collections, composed primarily of archaeolog-ical materials, archives, artifacts, and natural history specimens. Archival materials in NPS collections include personal papers, organiza-tional archives, copies of official records, re-sources management files (such as archaeolog-ical site forms, field notes, drawings, maps, photographs, video tapes, sound recordings, oral histories, inventories of artifacts, scientific or laboratory reports, etc.), and photographic collections. Many of these photographic collections contain images from the first half of the twentieth century that were produced on unstable, flammable cellulose nitrate film.

In the early 1990s, the National Park Service conducted a survey of cellulose nitrate film holdings systemwide. The survey was coordin-ated by the Service's Museum Management Program (MMP) in Washington, D.C. The MMP writes National Park Service museum policy and guidance, provides technical support to NPS staff concerning preservation, protec-tion, documentation, access, and use of museum collections, and produces the Museum Hand-book, Conserve O Gram technical leaflet series, and web-based resources including the Web Catalog and American Visionaries.

According to the nitrate film survey, NPS collections contained in excess of 150,000 still picture negatives (primarily sizes 4" x 5" and 5" x 7") on nitrate film and 166 reels of nitrate mo-tion picture film. Fortunately, many of these images had already been reformatted (duplicat-ed) onto stable safety film, but others had not yet been copied, due to insufficient staffing and funding levels.

In 1999, the Museum Management Program applied for and received funding through the Recreational Fee Demonstration (Fee Demo) Program to begin reformatting the remaining nitrate negatives and motion picture film in park collections. Beginning in 1997, Congress pro-vided authority to institute the Fee Demo Pro-gram at up to 100 sites. The program permitted participating parks to institute entrance or user fees (or raise fees already in place). All revenue collected at these sites is retained by the Nation-al Park Service (80% by the collecting park) to fund maintenance, resources management, and other critical projects. The remaining 20% is made available to fund projects at NPS sites not part of the Fee Demo Program.

With invaluable assistance provided by Steven Puglia of the National Archives and Records Administration's (NARA) Special Media Pre-servation Branch, the Museum Management Program developed project funding criteria, contract specifications, a workplan, and quality control methodology for the reformatting pro-ject using NARA's specifications, guidelines, and procedures. The National Park Service also benefited tremendously from Mr. Puglia's will-ingness to provide additional support and training for NPS staff involved in the contract-ing and quality control aspects of the project (support that is on-going).

Later that same year, the National Park Service issued a servicewide call for reformatting pro-ject applications from interested parks and other NPS offices with cellulose nitrate film that had not yet been duplicated. The project eligibility requirements stated that all nitrate negatives must be cataloged in order to receive funding. During the prioritization process, preference was given to projects that:

  • would eliminate the fire and safety hazard by replacement of nitrate film with reformatted copies for use in the parks
  • definitively identified the film as cellulose nitrate
  • would reformat film at stage two of deterioration
  • would reformat collections with high value and use
  • would return copied material to storage with humidity and temperature control
  • were from parks or regional centers with standard, written access and use procedures and forms

Additional preference was given to parks and centers that had access to other funding sources to provide for:

  • adequate archival folders, boxes, and shelving to hold reformatted copies
  • individual housing and labeling of the negatives to be copied
  • staff time for loan processing and park inspection when reformatted copies are returned

In late 1999, three park motion picture film projects and twenty park and two regional center still picture projects were approved for funding. Bono Film and Video of Arlington, Virginia was awarded the motion picture film reformatting contract. By mid-summer of 2000, the contractor had duplicated all nitrate motion picture film to stable film base, produced a vid-eo use copy of each film, and returned all orig-inal and duplicate materials to the three parks.

In late 2000, the still picture reformatting con-tract was awarded to the Northeast Document Conservation Center (NEDCC) in Andover, Massachusetts. The contract specifies that the contractor will: 1) inspect negatives sent to them for reformatting to ensure that they are cellulose nitrate film, 2) produce an interpositive and duplicate (safety) negative for each nitrate neg-ative, 3) house each interpositive and safety negative within a properly labeled acid-free paper enclosure, 4) conduct in-house quality control, 5) provide requested samples from each batch to the MMP for quality control purposes, 6) provide express return shipping of original negatives, duplicate negatives, and interposi-tives to the parks. The MMP provides contract oversight, financial accountability, park and contractor support, and quality control for the project.

NEDCC began working on 10,000 negatives from Yellowstone in November 2000. Most of these images were taken in the 1920s through early 1950s and include views of Old Faithful and other geysers, the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, mountains, forests, visitors, park staff, park structures, wildlife, construction projects (including work by the Civilian Conser-vation Corps), and a variety of other subjects.

Following completion of the Yellowstone component of the project, the contractor has since completed projects from the Statue of Liberty National Monument, Carlsbad Caverns National Park, El Morro National Monument, Weir Farm National Historic Site, Harry S. Truman National Historic Site, Mesa Verde National Park, and Chaco Culture National Historical Park, totaling nearly 14,500 images.

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News & Announcements

Preserving and Providing Long-Term Access to Electronic Records (Basic) in Columbia, SC, 13 March 2003, at the South Carolina Department of Archives and History. For more information, see:

Save America's Treasures Deadline Is March 20, 2003. Applications are now being accepted for Save America's Treasures Grants for fiscal year 2003. The grants are administered by the National Park Service in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Hu-manities, and the Institute of Museum and Library Services. Grants for conservation and preservation projects will be awarded on a competitive basis, and will range from $50,000 to $1 million, awarded on a 50:50 matching basis.

For applications and guidelines contact: National Endowment for the Arts,, phone: 202)682-5516, National Endowment for the Humanities,, phone: (202)606-8570, Institute of Museum and Library Services,, phone: (202)606-4641,

School For Scanning: Creating, Managing, and Preserving Digital Assets April 23-25, 2003, The Getty Center, Los Angeles, California. The conference will provide informa-tion for collections managers who are seeking to create, manage, and preserve digital assets. Part-icipants will leave the conference better equipped to make informed choices regarding management of their digital projects. Although significant technical content will be presented, this is not a technician-training program. More information can be found at

Kodak Fellowship in Film Preservation - Deadline : May 1, 2003 Application forms may downloaded from the AMIA web site at, or may be obtained by contacting the AMIA office at 8949 Wilshire Boule-vard, Beverly Hills, CA 90211; (phone) 310-550-1300; (fax) 310-550-1363; Questions concerning the Kodak Fellowship should be directed to: Eddie Richmond, UCLA Film and Television Archive; phone: 323-462-4921 Ext. 11; fax: 323-461-6317; email:

Digitization for Cultural and Heritage Professionals, May 11-16, 2003 The School of Information and Library Science at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill in con-junction with the Humanities Advanced Technology and Information Institute, University of Glasgow, and Rice University's Fondren Library is offering the fourth Digitization for Cultural and Heritage Profes-sionals course, May 11-16, 2003. Full information, course details, and an online registration form can be found on the SILS web pages at:

NEH Preservation Assistance Grants Application Deadline is May 15, 2003.These grants of up to $5,000 are awarded on a com-petitive basis to support the preservation of materials in libraries, archives, museums, and historical organ-izations. A focus of the program is to promote pres-ervation planning and preservation activities within the country's smaller institutions. The following act-ivities can be supported through a Preservation As-sistance Grant: General preservation and conserv-ation surveys designed to help an institution identify its preservation needs and develop a long-range preservation plan to address them ; Consultations with preservation professionals to develop a plan to address a specific preservation problem ; Attendance at preservation workshops and training programs; purchasing preservation supplies, equipment, and storage furniture.

Grant applications and guidelines are available at or by calling (202) 606-8570.

Preserving and Providing Long-Term Access to Archival Electronic Records [Advanced] will be offered in Columbia, SC, May 15, 2003, at the South Carolina Department of Archives and History. See

Applications for the NEH's Division of Preservation and Access. Deadline: July 1. Guidelines and Application Instructions can be downloaded from the NEH Web Site. To obtain a print version of the Guidelines or to address a ques-tion to the NEH staff, e-mail NEH at, or write to: NEH Division of Preserva-tion and Access, Room 802, 1100 Penn-sylvania Avenue NW, Washington DC 20506, 202-606-8570, Email: NEHPRES@GWU VM.GWU. EDU. Guide-lines and application in-structions may be download-ed from preservation.pdf. Program officers will be happy to provide sample grant applications and other assistance in preparing a proposal.

Society of American Archivists Meeting to be held in Los Angeles, CA at the Century Plaza Hotel and Tower, August 18-24, 2003.

Symposium 2003 Preservation of Electronic Records: New Knowledge and Decision-making to be held in Ottawa, Canada September 15-18, 2003. This symposium is hosted by the Canadian Conservation Institute, the National Archives of Canada, and the National Library of Canada. For further information please contact: Symposium 2003 Program Coordinator, Canadian Conservation Institute, 1030 Innes Road, Ottawa ON K1A 0M5 Canada; Tel: 613-998-3721; Fax: 613-998-4721; E-mail:

And don't forget the Northeast Document Conservation Center's Preservation 101 Online Static Course. It covers a number of topics, including environmental damage, collections care, housekeeping, emergency preparedness, care of photographs, and preservation planning. See

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Society of American Archivists Preservation Section

Special Election

The Nominating Committee (Diane Vogt-O'Connor (Chair), NARA; Steve Dalton, NEDCC; Glenda B. Stevens, TCU) is pleased to present the slate of candidates for the following positions:

  • Vice Chair/Chair Elect: Susan DuBois
  • Member-at-Large: Doris A. Hamburg

Please review the biographical notes on each of the candidates and indicate your selection on the ballot on page 6. Please note that you may select only one candidate per office. Write in candi-dates are welcome. Please mail this original bal-lot to: Diane Vogt-O'Connor, Senior Archivist for Affiliated and Regional Archives, Office of Regional Records Services, National Archives and Records Administration, Archives II, 8601 Adelphi Road, Room 3600, College Park, MD 20740-6001. You may call Diane at 301-837-3089 if you have questions about the submission of your ballot. Election results will be announc-ed in the next issue of Infinity. The nominating Committee wishes to thank all the candidates for their willingness to serve the Preservation Section.

For Vice-Chair/Chair Elect Candidate-Susan W. DuBois is Preservation Services Officer at the Conservation Center for Art and Historic Artifacts (CCAHA). CCAHA is a non-profit regional conservation laboratory serving other non-profit cultural, educational, and research institutions, as well as private individ-uals and organizations throughout the United States. At CCAHA, Susan conducts preserva-tion assessments, develops and presents educa-tional programs, and responds to requests for technical preservation information. She has conducted dozens of preservation overview surveys of libraries, archives, museums, and other organizations with historic collections.

Before coming to CCAHA in 1996, Susan was the Manager of Special Collections and Preser-vation Services at the Presbyterian Historical Society in Philadelphia, where she had respon-sibility for long-term preservation planning for the institution. She began her career as an archivist at the Salvation Army Archives in New York City. Susan received a MLS from Colum-bia University, and a BA in history from Lynch-burg College. She was trained in Preservation Administration through the Society of American Archivists Preservation Management Training Program (1993). She participates in the activities of the Regional Alliance for Preservation (RAP) and has co-edited its newsletter. Susan has been a member of SAA since 1985.

For Member-at-Large Candidate-Doris A. Hamburg serves as Director, Preservation Programs at the National Archives and Records Administration in College Park, Maryland. In this capacity she manages the range of preservation programs for NARA that include the document conservation laboratory, research and testing laboratory, special media preservation laboratory and the national preservation programs. Preservation Programs develops policy for ensuring the physical well-being and informational value of nationwide holdings in NARA's custody, including at three sites in Washington, DC, 13 Presidential Libraries and 12 regional archives.

Prior to coming to NARA in 2001, Ms. Hamburg worked for many years at the Library of Congress (LC). As Head of Preventive Conservation, she developed the Library's first preventive preservation program, bringing together environment, pest management, storage and housing issues, emergency preparedness, training, and collection treatment into an integrated collections approach on behalf of text and nontextual records. Ms. Hamburg coordinated the development of the LC buildings' preservation specifications, working closely with the collection managers, archivists, librarians, facility managers, architects, consultants, security staff, and engineers to integrate the appropriate preservation elements into existing and new buildings. She managed a range of other preservation programs, including the creation and implementation of the LC heritage assets preservation/security assessment and by serving as Acting Chief of the Conservation Division and as Head of the Paper Conservation Section.

Ms. Hamburg received a B.A. in medieval studies from Mount Holyoke College, a M.A. in art history from Columbia University, and a M.S. and Certificate in the Conservation of Art and Artifacts and a Certificate in Museum Studies from University of Delaware/Winterthur Museum Conservation Program. Ms. Hamburg is active in the preservation field, and has published and lectured nationally and internationally.

Ballot not included for online newsletter

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Society of American Archivists Preservation Section. Created 14 April 2004