Posted by: Ashley | February 8, 2017

Albert Barden Photograph Collection Finding Aid Online

[This blog post was written by Kim Andersen, Audio Visual Materials Archivist in the Special Collections Section of the State Archives of North Carolina.]

Photographer Albert Barden with his sisters, Daisy and Violet, c. 1910.

Photographer Albert Barden is seen with his sisters, Daisy (left) and Violet (right) c. 1910. If you look closely, you can see that Albert is taking the picture. In his hand is a cable release–a corded device used to activate the shutter of the camera. Call number: N.53.16.5173 From the Albert Barden Collection, State Archives of NC; Raleigh, NC.

Audiovisual Materials staff Kim Andersen, Ian F. G. Dunn, and Karl Larson are very excited to announce that the finding aid for the Barden collection has been completed and published online!

The Albert Barden Photograph Collection consists of over 18,000 individual negatives created by Albert Barden (21 October 1888–2 October 1953), a commercial photographer in Raleigh, N.C., between 1908 and 1953.  This wonderful collection contains a wealth of subject matter including studio portraiture, advertisements, street scenes, municipal buildings, residential homes, neighborhoods, and editorial work and is one of the most used and beloved collections in the State Archives of North Carolina.

Pictured is a group of Raliegh City officials holding Yo-Yos on the steps of City Hall c. 1930.

Pictured is a group of city officials holding Yo-Yos on the steps of City Hall c. 1930. Seen on left, slightly facing group, is the inventor of the modern Yo-Yo–Pedro Flores. This photograph was probably taken as he passed through Raleigh on one of his yo-yo competition tours. The faces in the group stare forward, alight with the novelty and frivolity of this little toy during a heavy time of unrest and worry. N.53.17.520 From the Albert Barden Collection, State Archives of NC; Raleigh, NC.

The publishing of this finding aid concludes one leg and begins another of what has been an exciting journey through time for this collection.  It all began for us with the initial donation to the North Carolina Museum of History upon Albert Barden’s death in 1953.  Fast forward to the 1970s when the collection was transferred to the State Archives, catalogued on index cards, copied to then-standard 4” x 5” film negatives, and made available to the public for research and enjoyment.  Then came the dawn of the digital age, and in the early 2000s the original Barden negatives—spectacular oversized film and glass negatives—were scanned in what was arguably the first mass digitization project undertaken at the State Archives!  Even then, however, there was no actual finding aid—only the archaic card catalog and a cryptic database documenting the scans.  There was no collection description, no biography of Albert Barden, and no comprehensive online presence.  And the oversized original negatives simply languished back in their file cabinets after being scanned.  Fortunately, by 2014, the AV Materials Unit had Ian on board, and with meticulous skill and tireless dedication, he rehoused all the original Barden negatives and created this beautiful finding aid:

http://ead.archives.ncdcr.gov/PHC_BARDEN_Albert_Barden_Photog_.html

Western Union employees are seen posing in front of their workplace on Fayetteville Street in Raleigh c. 1915

Western Union employees are seen posing in front of their workplace on Fayetteville Street in Raleigh c. 1915. N.53.15.9745
From the Albert Barden Collection, State Archives of NC; Raleigh, NC.

Thanks to Ian’s countless hours of devotion and to the enhanced descriptions he and part-time researcher Karl Larson put together, it is the dawn of a new day for this collection.  And now that the finding aid is online providing item-level descriptions of everything in the collection, over the course of the next several months more of the scanned images will be put online.  The ultimate goal is to eventually have the entire Barden Collection described and available digitally to the world.  Please watch for updates on that progress here in this blog.

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