Campaign Memorabilia

I have worked a couple of times with the Patricia Caron Crowley collection at the Women and Leadership Archives. Patricia was very active with charities and organizations in Chicago. During the 1968 and 1972 Presidential elections, Patricia and her husband Pat were heavily involved in the Eugene McCarthy campaign in Illinois. They held parties and fundraisers. Patricia was an avid scrapbooker and her collection contains dozens of books filled with years of memories. She saved numerous items, photographs, and newspaper articles from her time working on the McCarthy campaign. Many of the items are kept in a guestbook where she had party attendees sign their names.

Photoshop would be very helpful in cropping many of the articles out of the guestbook. The paper glued and taped into the book could easily enough be scanned, but Photoshop would be a better tool for cropping out the background to focus solely on the article. Many of the images I have of materials of the McCarthy campaign have the same unflattering brown background. The photos were taken with the guestbook or hat on a wood table. Through Photoshop, the background of the images can be manipulated to enhance the photos and remove any glare from the tabletop. Images used in a digital project would appear more cohesive if the background was consistent throughout the collection. The two images above highlight the glare of the lights on the table. I thought about scanning the pages but I worried scans of the pages would detract from the guestbook as a whole.

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3D items like this hat pose problems to digital projects. New technology allows 3D scans of items like this, but not every institution can afford such technology.

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Sticker found in a guestbook

Patricia Crowley with her husband Pat as they gaze at a McCarthy poster

Patricia Crowley with her husband Pat as they gaze at a McCarthy poster

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Part of a pamphlet for the Illinois Primary

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The shiny black cover of the guestbook made it very difficult to take a picture without any glare.

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One of the many articles taped inside the guestbook

While Photoshop can be very helpful for a variety of things including cropping, removing glare, and changing backgrounds, I would caution against over manipulating an image. Public historians should want to use the best possible images for digital projects. However, if the point of the project is to provide access to a collection, then images of photographs, letters, articles, and objects should remain true to the original. Enhanced images have been known to reveal parts of a photograph that are difficult to see in the original. These types of enhancements benefit researchers and the public in general. I personally find something charming and enduring about images that stay true to the fading ink and ragged edges.

All images were taken at the Women and Leadership Archives on the Loyola University Chicago campus.
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