RG 10 Acetate Negatives Digitization Project

The photographs in this series, Records of the Bureau of Ships, Series 19-N, Naval History Photographs, 1883-1941, were largely inherited by the Bureau of Ships from its predecessors, documents the earlier periods of U.S. Naval development. The bulk of the images are exterior portraits of combat-ready vessels of all types. Images reveal important features of hull design, deck design, gun placement, and rigging. The diversity of ship types represented suggests the scope of Naval transformation between the Civil War and World War II- sail to steam, wood to steel. Also represented in the photographs are views of ships under construction or repair, images of ship decks and interiors, images of equipment and parts, and images of individual or group portraits of officers, crewmen, and political leaders.

Because of the nature of the originals (acetate), this project is a preservation reformatting project due to the risk of loss of information from deterioration for these records. RG 19 was one of the record groups identified by the Image Permanence Institute (IPI) in their 2002 survey of color and black and white acetate still picture holdings as having a higher percentage of negatives having an elevated acidity level, based on A-D Strip readings from a sample of the record group. Films in RG 19 appeared to be in the most critical condition: 5% are in poor or critical condition and 6% are already at the autocatalytic point, making this group a good candidate for duplication. The survey was the basis for the still picture preservation priorities, which is articulated in the non-text 5-year preservation plan.

The Photographic Imaging, Microfilm and Textual Preservation Lab has previously reformatted (photographically) 80,000 negatives (about 2/3 of the series) as interpositives on 70 mm roll film. There are approximately 41,000 negatives remaining. These negatives will be captured digitally on the Stokes Camera system in 16-shot mode. Still Photo Maximum - 4000 Line [SPF-P1] file, Still Photo Maximum - 6000 Line [SPF-P2] file, or Still Photo Maximum - 8000 Line [SPF-P3] file will be produced and will be kept in negative mode, as 16-bit grayscale TIFF files, with no cropping, and will include the step target in frame. Resolution is based on size and format of original (i.e., 8” x 10” at 800 ppi, 4” x 5” at 1,200 ppi, 35 mm at 2,800 ppi, etc.). Two derivative files may also be produced: the first will be a Standard Distribution Image [IMG-D1] file, and the second will be a Letter-Sized Distribution Image [IMG-D2] file.

The timeline for this project is ongoing.

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