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First 2016 researchers visit archives

By January 12, 2016Archives
Elaine Lambert, left, and Sandra Baggett, visited the University Archives Department to explore the Jack Shults collection, a series of digitized negatives.

Childhood friends Sandra Baggett and Elaine Lambert recently stopped by the Delta State University Archives Department to visit with old friends found in the Jack Shults collection, a series of digitized negatives.

Originally on loan to the University Archives in 2006, Mary Dayle Shutls McCormick shared her father’s collection of negatives in an effort to preserve the fragile negatives. Through donations and over almost a year’s work, the negatives were transferred to a cold storage and stabilized. Carefully, stable negatives were scanned and reviewed by McCormick along with her mother, Mrs. Jack Shults. Thanks to their work, a description inventory was created.

Within the collection, Baggett and Lambert, Rolling Fork natives, recognized homes of other childhood friends, parades and church events they recalled, and a particularly stern high school principal’s portrait.  Never the recipient of more than a cursory glance and cordial query after family, the ladies had many stories to share about some of their male classmates who earned quality time in the principal’s office. Their stories suddenly transformed the ladies into the high school girls they had been.

As Lambert scrolled through the images, Baggett would offer bits of stories and descriptive information on the subject of the image. Debating on whether an image featured the Moore House, or perhaps another family, both ladies provided another layer of identification and interest to the images.

“Their visit solidified that everything, even damaged negatives, are worth the time and energy spent to collect and preserve them,” said Emily Jones, university archivist. “While the donor, Mary Dayle Shults McCormick, treasured the negatives because they were created by her father, she recognized their importance to a community. Instead of holding them in her home where she could look at them at her leisure, she decided to entrust them to our care. Her trust and our collaboration to identify the images resulted in a meaningful experience for Mrs. Lambert and Mrs. Baggett.”

With the collection’s descriptions and quality scans, a small database was created and once hosted on the University Archives’ webpage. The page is now being reconstructed and will soon be available online through the Mississippi Digital Library.

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