Documenting the Chapman Albums

l. to r. Clayton Lewis, Julie Fremuth, Kayla Smith, Andrea Ventola, Taylor Williams, Dominique Horne, and Lindsay Laird. Not shown, Chavon Taylor.

During a fall 2014 day, six students joined Clements Library Curator Clayton Lewis and Conservator Julie Fremuth for a one-time only experience, the dismantling of the Chapman albums. What clues to the album’s stories might be found in the markings, captions, and stamps located underneath the album’s frames or on the back side of the images? While Lewis and Fremuth worked carefully to remove and then record the details of each photo, Dominique Horne, Lindsay Laird, Kayla Smith, Chavon Taylor, Andrea Ventola, and Taylor Williams documented the process for The Arabella Chapman Project.





Picture1When not being used by researchers, the albums are stored in custom built cardboard boxes to protect them from temperature changes, light damage, and humidity.





ToolsJulie Fremuth assembled the tools for dismantling the albums: latex gloves, foam cradles, leaded string, micro spatulas, and X-ACTO knives.





BindingFirst, was making note of the condition of the bindings. They are fragile! Fremuth noted that during an earlier restoration, the albums pages had been restored to their original order. The scalloped pages are decorated with gold paint and tied together with a red string.




spatulaWorking with the micro spatula and a delicate touch, Fremuth carefully coaxed each photo from its frame. Most had likely been in place for more than 100 years.








TripodOnce removed, each image was photographed using a digital camera and tripod. You can find these images by clicking on the pages in Album I and Album II.





Credit: Dominique Horne, Lindsay Laird, Kayla Smith, Chavon Taylor, Andrea Ventola, and Taylor Williams