Preparing for the Archives

Time on the road is precious. I’m hoping to get through as much archival material as possible so I’m taking the ‘lightening tour’ approach to research; if in doubt, take a picture.

Thankfully the Hoover Institution now allows cameras in the reading room and I’m taking my trusty 5mp digital camera on my upcoming trip. It has a ‘micro’ setting, for close-in photos, and an auto-stabiliser function. I’ve splashed out on an AC adaptor, which means no switching between batteries all day. A 2gb SD disc should be enough for one day of snaps before processing in the evening.

The key to this system is a ‘table-top monopod‘. It attaches to the camera and clamps to the desktop, which should ensure a sharp image for each shot. Once the shot has been set up once, it will stay in place ready for the next document.

camera_desk

The idea is to then take a picture of *anything* that might be interesting. I can read the document when I get home; it’s quicker to just take the photo. For each new file and box, I’ll take a picture of a note with the correct details for what is to be pictured next.

The Image Capture software on my Mac is easiest for importing the picture collection into a pre-prepared file system. Image Capture features the camera’s time stamp for each photo taken, which means you can be sure the order of the photographed material won’t be muddled up.

After two-weeks of following this method, I’ll have created a comprehensive digitised database and be able to process my collection at my leisure.

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