Creating the Online Collection

The work of cataloguing, cleaning, and scanning the negatives, undertaken by MHAC member Adam Levine, took about a year and a half. He first transcribed into a spreadsheet Appleton’s handwritten index, then cross referenced that information by examining the actual negatives, noting which were missing and adding information found on the negative envelopes where that supplemented the index entries.

Each plate was carefully cleaned with paper towels and water, and any remnants of the envelope stuck to the glass were removed when this could be done without damaging the emulsion side of the negative. When the Archives moved into the newly-completed Media-Upper Providence Free Library in 2016, Media Borough Council generously provided funds for new electronic equipment, including an Epson V850 scanner with a transparency lid. Negatives were scanned in grayscale at 600 or 800 dpi for 4x5 and 5x7 formats, and at 600 dpi for the 8x10 format. Original scans in the tiff format have been retained; edited jpeg images, cropped and adjusted in Adobe Photoshop, are presented in this online collection.

A final task was fleshing out the catalog with fuller descriptions, locations, and subject headings, all of which conform to Library of Congress specifications, with the goal of making this and future MHAC collections accessible through the Digital Public Library of America.

While all negatives that could be scanned were scanned, not all are presented in this online collection. Appleton took these photographs using a view camera on a tripod, and usually made multiple exposures of each scene or sitting. With outdoor scenes, this resulted in indentical images of the same scene, and in those cases the best exposure is presented here. With portrait sittings, however, each exposure reveals movement of the subjects--slight in most cases, but often dramatic in the caes of the many babies Appleton photographed--and so all exposures of these sittings are presented online.