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Special Collections Research Center

 HOURS for December 11, 2016:  Closed

Acetate Negative Decomposition

 

Introduction

Photographic negatives produced in the 1930s and 1940s used acetate base material (known as "Safety Film"). In some early acetate negatives, the base material is unstable and shrinks at a more rapid rate than the photographic emulsion. This process (known as "vinegar syndrome" because of its distinctive smell) causes warps and eventually cracks in the emulsion, distorting the images.

Stable environmental conditions and proper storage can delay the effects, but nothing can reverse it.

The Lafayette Studios Collection is the most afflicted portion of the archives. Over 1,000 of its 12,000 negatives are in the advanced stages of vinegar syndrome. Lafayette Studios is the most complete existing record of Lexington in the 1930s and 1940s, and has been used by researchers all over the world.

Traditional printing processes can recover the images off the negative before the advanced stages of distortion. When the warping is extreme and advanced, little of the image can be seen.

In response, the Audio-Visual Archives has turned to digital camera technology. Digital capture of the image off the negative utilizing a copy stand and a lightboard has proven effective. In most cases, 80 - 90% of the original image can be reproduced.

The preservation of the Lafayette Studios Collection is an on-going process. The entire collection is not slated for completion until sometime in 2004.


Our Mission

Special Collections Research Center is home to UK Libraries' collection of rare books, Kentuckiana, the Archives, the Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, the King Library Press, the Bert T. Combs Appalachian Collection, the John G. Heyburn Center for Judicial Excellence, and the Wendell H. Ford Public Policy Research Center.

SCRC collects,preserves, and provides access to materials documenting the social, cultural, economic, and political history of the Commonwealth of Kentucky. Materials are acquired regardless of format and include both primary and secondary sources; Kentuckiana is collected comprehensively. SCRC maintains the University Archives and records management program for all records generated by the University and serves as its archival repository for permanent records. SCRC advances and supports the research, teaching, and scholarship of the University and beyond by preserving and providing access to its holdings.

Associate Dean Deirdre A. Scaggs

Materials at Special Collections Research Center do not circulate.

Access to materials provided through the Breckinridge Research Room.

For Research, Reference, or Collections-related Inquiries
Breckinridge Research Room
Phone:
(859) 257-8611
Fax: (859) 257-6311
Email: sclref@lsv.uky.edu

Campus Mail Code: 0039

Mailing Address:
Special Collections Research Center
Margaret I. King Library
University of Kentucky Libraries
Lexington, KY 40506-0039

Delivery Address:
179 Funkhouser Drive
Margaret I. King Library
University of Kentucky Libraries
Lexington, KY 40506-0039

Emergency Vehicle Response Location:
179 Funkhouser