R.C. Leavenworth and his employees and partners took more than 200,000 photographs of Lansing, Michigan during the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s. Thousands of the negatives are now wrinkled, buckled, warped, fused together in bricks, deteriorated and deteriorating. They were made using cellulose nitrate and cellulose acetate films — both chemically unstable and the former highly flammable — and stored for years under less-than-ideal conditions.
State Archivist Mark Harvey called the collection “the most complete photographic record of the city.”
A group of private donors has put a substantial portion of the collection into the hands of the Archives of Michigan, paying for the acquisition and preservation of many of the most important images. But the archives still doesn’t have the money to preserve every part of the collection it owns and there are tens of thousands of negatives that are for sale. The Archives of Michigan is seeking funding to pay for the remainder of negatives.
You can learn more in an article by Matthew Miller in the LSJ.com web site at http://goo.gl/1Edtd.
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