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A Glimpse of Carthage on Glass


Last summer, two Collections staff members drove to northern Indiana to retrieve 409 glass plates, 39 film negatives, 109 photographic postcards of the Carthage Centennial celebration in 1934 and two photographs – all taken by H. Oran Henley of Carthage in Rush County. Mrs. Rheta Eversman of Jonesboro donated the images, which document people and events in Carthage from around 1900 to 1938.

According to census records, Oran was a farmer in 1900, an electrician at the electric light company in Carthage from 1910 to 1920, and a carpenter at a lumber company by 1930. He never listed his occupation as photographer but, according to the Carthage Centen­nial pamphlet, he was the 1934 event’s official photographer, and he owned studios with his wife in Carthage and nearby Knightstown.

Most of the Henley negatives are still in good condition even though over the years they were stored under less than ideal circumstances – their last location was in the trunk of a car.

High temperatures caused some photo-emulsion layers to bubble, effloresce, crack and detach from their glass plate supports. Conservators are working to stabilize, reattach and clean the plates and their emulsions.

“Before beginning treatment, I analyze the original emulsion and photochemistry and make determinations regarding the safest solutions,” says Susan Rogers, conservator.

Working under magnification, Susan and her colleagues apply consolidating solutions beneath the loose layers of emulsion to prevent further losses and reattach emulsion layers to original glass plates.

Once the emulsions are stabilized, the negatives are safely cleaned with specially formulated solutions.