Get Reel!

By Lauren Amundson

One of the biggest challenges archivists face is preserving and providing access to legacy materials. This includes items such as reel to reel tapes; 8mm, 16mm, and 35mm film; cassette tapes; and Laserdiscs. Many repositories don’t have the equipment or expertise to play and/or digitize these formats without  damaging them.

AV collection

With a grant from the Arizona Historical Records Advisory Board, we digitized our audiovisual collection earlier this year. We sent the original tapes, film, and discs to Scene Savers in Kentucky. They spent several months digitizing the materials and returned the originals plus digital master and access files. We just uploaded some of the files to the Arizona Memory Project, where they’re now available for anyone to listen to. We’re excited to share this part of our history and ensure access for future generations.



Books of Scraps

By Stacey Christen

Bibles had been used for centuries as a place to keep records and photos of family members. As the desire to maintain records grew, books were created specifically for the purpose of storing photos and scraps of papers.


Many archives are digitizing the scrapbooks they have in their collections. I am currently processing the scrapbooks of Wrexie Louise Leonard (1867-1937), Percival Lowell’s personal secretary. As was popular in her time, Wrexie kept books filled with the ephemera she collected during her life.

11111This page, dated February 8, 1889, documents a night of dancing at the opera house with the rose she was given by an admirer.

WLL129-1WLL130-1A Valentine’s Day card from 1889 is still encased in its original envelope.

Digitizing scrapbooks can be time consuming and challenging. The results are worth the effort. For tips on digitizing scrapbooks, check out this tutorial from The Sustainable Heritage Network.

Through the Looking Glass

By Lauren Amundson

When Percival Lowell decided to build his observatory in Flagstaff, he needed one important thing: a telescope! Roughly two years before the arrival of the 24-inch Clark refractor, Lowell borrowed a 12-inch refractor from Harvard College Observatory and an 18-inch refractor from lensmaker John Brashear of Pittsburgh. Alvan Clark designed an attachment that allowed the two telescopes to be mounted together.

Unfortunately, poor observing conditions led Lowell to temporarily shut down the Flagstaff operation in the spring of 1895, and Lowell’s assistant Andrew Douglass returned the telescopes to their owners.

Here’s the 1894 loan agreement between Lowell and Brashear for the 18-inch object glass, as well as a photo of the 12-inch and 18-inch telescopes on their specially designed mount.



With a Little Help from My Friends


By Stacey Christen

data sheet

One of the challenges faced by archivists is coming across documents for which we do not have an adequate frame of reference. In the course of processing Dr. Elizabeth Roemer’s papers, I have found several boxes full of astronomical data. I recognize that I am viewing astronomical readings, but I’m not sure of exactly what and if they are important. Luckily, there is no shortage of astronomers at Lowell Observatory. There is always someone around who has a deeper understanding of astronomy than I do. Experts are often consulted when dealing with unusual records. As archivists we want to make sure we have what is needed for the researchers who come to us for assistance.