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Tag: Documerica Project

Documerica: Seeing the Seventies More Clearly

Today’s blog post comes from Hannah Fenster, summer intern with the Public Affairs Office.

Ever wonder why your photographs of the 1970s are slowly changing color? Hint: They don’t want makeovers or need more fuchsia in their lives. More likely, their aging appearances come from the original film type and from years of storage at room temperature.

The National Archives used an elaborate process to produce top-quality, fully restored photographs for the exhibit “DOCUMERICA: Searching for the Seventies,” which runs through September 8. The National Archives stores the original images as slides in cold storage to minimize the color shift.

Need caption

The image on the left is the “before”; on the right is the “after.”The original caption reads “Inexpensive retirement hotels are a hallmark of the South Beach area. A favored place is the front porch, where residents sit and chat or watch the activities on the beach.” Flip Shulke, June 1973 (National Archives 412-DA-6139)

I spoke with Michelle Farnsworth, digital imaging technician at the National Archives, to discuss the process of resurrecting the photos for exhibition.

To transfer the images from stored slides to shiny exhibit frames, technicians began by scanning the slides into a digitized format at the Digital Imaging Lab at the National Archives in College Park, MD.

The scanned versions underwent some preliminary color editing. “We weren’t trying to make them look … [ Read all ]

It’s not the Gulf, it’s the Schuylkill

Oil is washing up onto the shores of Louisiana and Florida. But these are not the only American shores to suffer environmental catastrophe from oil spills.

In 1972, Hurricane Agnes took an unusual turn over the East Coast. After passing over Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina, the storm swung back over the Atlantic and regained strength. It moved back over New York state on June 22, and on June 23 the hurricane was hovering over Pennsylvania.

Heavy rain meant flooding, and the surge of water hit cities in upstate New York and Pennsylvania hard. For the Keystone State, there was $2.3 billion in damage caused by flooding and 50 deaths. Shamokin, PA, had 18 inches of rain.

The rising water damaged more than cities.

The flooding released 6 to 8 million gallons of oil into the Pennsylvania’s Schuylkill River, coating trees and riverbed grasses. In this photo from the Environmental Protection Agency (Record Group 412) Documerica Project, you can see the reddish brown sludge on the banks.

Has the river recovered? Thirty years later, the river is an important resource, with 10% of Pennsylvania’s population relying on the Schuylkill River for all or part of their water supply.

But even if the water is drinkable, the river remains in danger.

Oil spills are not a thing of the past. This month, a fire … [ Read all ]