Throughout this week, we have explored many facets of preservation in the archives.

From considering the importance of TIME in the deteriorated photographs of Chester Rice from our Clara E. Sipprell Papers and the collected and digitized WSYR recordings of over 50 years of local history,

To recognizing the work of the photojournalist, Margaret Bourke-White, and acknowledging the RISK inherent in failing to preserve and digitize her photographs, negatives, and recordings,

To understanding that every item that is considered for preservation or digitization is a result of making a JUDGEMENT call, with special attention paid to the Pope Leo XIII cylinder recording,

And to realizing that there are UNKNOWN qualities to discover in any recording or object we are able to restore, as was found in the E. Thomas Billard cassette tape recordings.


Today, we turn to a final consideration in the preservation process: VALUE.

How do we define “value” in the archives? Culturally and historically significant materials may have a value assigned or ascribed to them. Sentimentality or nostalgia can also determine the value of an object, particularly for individuals or members of a community.

1970s Syracuse University video. Syracuse University Audiovisual Collection.

The photographs, films, and documentation that make up SCRC’s University Archives holdings are a key method by which staff, faculty, students, alumni, and the broader SU community can situate themselves in a certain time and place on campus, or in a historical moment of founding or protest, understanding or growth.

Syracuse University aerial view.
Aerial view of campus looking northwest, circa 1920s. Syracuse University Photograph Collection.

And textiles and memorabilia, everything from pennants and beanies to football jerseys, provide a tangible connection to the past. Maintaining the integrity of the artifacts we value through preservation extends the longevity of these materials, and increases connections to our shared history.

Syracuse Pennant
Syracuse Pennant. Syracuse University Memorabilia Collection.

Below, SCRC Director Petrina Jackson, speaks on the importance of preservation in the archives.

“One of our greatest priorities as stewards of the rare and unique materials that comprise the Special Collections Research Center is preservation. The responsibility of preservation is mission critical and permanent, meaning that we must care for our rare books, photographs, correspondence, recordings, and other archival and unique materials, not only now, or ten years from now, but for generations to come.”

Petrina Jackson, SCRC Director
Hendricks Chapel
Hendricks Chapel. Syracuse University Photograph Collection.
Ernie Davis jersey.
Ernie Davis’ #44 jersey, 1959-1962. Ernie Davis Collection.
Otto at SU game, 1982.
Otto the Orange mascot mingling with Syracuse University fans and cheerleaders at a game, 1982. Syracuse University Photograph Collection.
Chemistry students
Chemistry students, circa 1918. Edna Ruth Howe Papers.

“Being able to maintain this commitment takes a lot of invisible labor on the part of our staff, who spring into action at the sign of a leak or change in the building’s humidity or temperature and stabilize items that have deteriorated due to their chemical composition or age. As we continue to collect and care for special collections and university archives materials, we are guided by the fact that many have entrusted us with their collections and that documenting these histories are not only the root of new and original scholarship, but a source of accountability and remembrance.”

Petrina Jackson, SCRC Director
Syracuse Campus
View of the Syracuse Campus from the 1800s. Syracuse University Photograph Collection.
Orange and blue beanie
Freshmen beanie, circa 1930s-1940s from the Syracuse University Memorabilia Collection.
Students talking.
Students talking in long card catalog aisles in Bird Library. Syracuse University Photograph Collection.
Newhouse I dedication crowd.
Crowd before plaza at dedication of Newhouse I, 1964. Syracuse University Photograph Collection.

“Preservation is a protection of our investment in these archival and cultural heritage materials and a commitment that allows us to continue to provide access to materials to researchers and our SU community. For these reasons, we advocate for our collections and hope to share the importance of this advocacy with our users, donors, stakeholders, and the public.”

Petrina Jackson, SCRC Director
Commencement
Class Marshalls sitting at 1961 Commencement. Syracuse University Photograph Collection.
Syracuse University Buildings. Syracuse University Audiovisual Collection.

This post features videos from our Syracuse University Audiovisual Collection (Syracuse University Audiovisual Collection, University Archives, Special Collections Research Center, Syracuse University Libraries) and images from our Syracuse University Photograph Collection (Syracuse University Photograph Collection, University Archives, Special Collections Research Center, Syracuse University Libraries), Syracuse University Memorabilia Collection (Syracuse University Memorabilia Collection, University Archives, Special Collections Research Center, Syracuse University Libraries), Ernie Davis Collection (Ernie Davis Collection, University Archives, Special Collections Research Center, Syracuse University Libraries), Edna Ruth Howe Papers (Edna Ruth Howe Papers, University Archives, Special Collections Research Center, Syracuse University Libraries) part of the Special Collections Research Center’s University Archives collections.