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This manual aims to serve as a guideline to cataloging prints and paper negatives in the Harrison D. Horblit collection of early photography. The collection was first cataloged into a FileMaker Pro database between 1995 and 1999. These records were imported into OLIVIA, Harvard’s former visual information cataloging system, sometime in the 2000s. When OLIVIA was replaced with Artstor’s JSTOR Forum (formerly Shared Shelf) as Harvard’s main visual cataloging system, the records were transferred to this system. Records for the daguerreotypes and cased images have already been published to VIA. This manual pertains to the prints and negatives that have not been published online and only have legacy records in JSTOR Forum.

Resources used for this manual:

 Cataloging Historical Photographs in OLIVIA

 Describing Archives: A Content Standard

Descriptive Cataloging of Rare Materials (Graphics)

Helpful Resources


For guidance on anything not covered in this manual, consult Descriptive Cataloging of Rare Materials (Graphics) and discuss with Susan.


Houghton Library

Houghton Library


Harrison D. Horblit collection


Horblit Database

On shared drive: Houghton>Databases>horblit database>Horblit MAIN DATABASE.fp3

            *This is the main database created in prior work on the Horblit collection. All records from this database were imported to JSTOR Forum. All prints and negatives records will be updated using the standards outlined in this manual.


HOLLIS+ Images



JSTOR Forum (formerly Shared Shelf)

JSTOR Forum – Harvard Wiki


JSTOR Forum Help

General Photography Resources

For a comprehensive listing of resources, please see the Visual Materials Bibliography compiled by the Society of American Archivists Visual Materials Section.

Identifying Photographic Processes


Baldwin, Gordon, and Martin Jürgens. Looking at Photographs: A Guide to Technical Terms, Revised Edition (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2009)


Reilly, James M. Care and Identification of 19th-Century Photographic Prints (Rochester, New York: Eastman Kodak Co., 1986)


Graphics Atlas


The American Museum of Photography: A Primer on Processes


The Getty Conservation Institute: The Atlas of Analytical Signatures of Photographic processes by Dusan Stulik and Art Kaplan


Gawain Weaver process ID chart

Reference resources


Anninger, Anne, and Julie Mellby. Salts of silver, toned with gold : The Harrison D. Horblit collection of early photography (Cambridge, Mass: Houghton Library, Harvard University, 1999)


Hannavy, John, ed. Encyclopedia of Nineteenth-Century Photography (New York: Routledge, 2007)


Lavèdrine, Bertrand, Jean-Paul Gandolfo, and Sibylle Monod. A Guide to the Preventive Conservation of Photograph Collections (Los Angeles: Getty Conservation Institute, 2003)


Lavèdrine, Bertrand. Photographs of the Past: Process and Preservation (Los Angeles: Getty Conservation Institute, 2009)

Early photograph collections online


The William Henry Fox Talbot Catalogue Raisonné


The Royal Collection Picture Library


George Eastman Museum


Harry Ransom Center


Library of Congress: Prints & Photographs Online Catalog

Photographer resources

The New York Public Library: Photographers' Identities Catalog


photoLondon: 19th Century Photographers Database


Photography Database

Dating Photographs


If there is no known date for a photograph, the cataloger must determine an appropriate date range. The date range can be determined based on the photographic process and the photographer. If photographer is unknown, the cataloger will try to use other clues to determine as accurate as possible date range.



The Horblit collection requires the cataloger to pay particular attention to preservation care and careful handling of the materials.


  • Lighting – many prints in the collection remain light sensitive. As these may be housed with stable prints, the cataloger will have minimal lights at her workspace.
  • Rehousing – while most prints in the file drawers are housed in mylar with some sort of supportive backing, it is preferred that prints identified as light sensitive will be housed in folders and labeled as light sensitive to alert users to their sensitive nature. This will reduce exposure to light damage and prevent further fading.
  • Handling – the cataloger should always be aware of the fragile nature of the prints and negatives and always follow best practices when it comes to working with the photographic prints.


Working with Preservation Services

Preservation Services (PS) is available for the cataloger should the cataloger want/need assistance with problems with identification and other preservation needs. They have gone through the Horblit collection for the salt paper print survey and therefore are familiar with the collection and have information that the cataloger can utilize while cataloging the salted paper prints. The cataloger should keep PS informed of what they are working on so PS can coordinate any necessary training and resources the cataloger may need. PS would like the cataloger to share their work after it is complete to compare identification, if there are any discrepancies then further research and discussion should be done.

Imaging Services

Notes on the workflow with Imaging Services (IS):

  • Batches should be between 100-300 prints per batch. Most batches planned will be 100-150 prints.
  • Each batch delivered to IS should also include one album.
  • Albums will be cataloged in JSTOR Forum later if there is time, for now the images will be linked to their HOLLIS record.
  • The first albums to go to IS are the Sir Thomas Phillips albums, after these are complete, the albums to go over sequentially.
    • Light sensitive material should be flagged.
    • Only rectos will be imaged unless the cataloger determines the verso has value, in that case the print will be flagged to have both sides imaged. The cataloger will need to create a second image record in JSTOR Forum for the verso image.
      • Early prints, such as those by Talbot, will have versos imaged if there is anything present on the verso. Marks that may not have an obvious meaning to the cataloger may be useful to researchers (per Larry J. Schaaf).
    • Mounts will be imaged.
    • Filename will be “ss_[sharedshelf#]”
    • Filename and call number for each print will be included on spreadsheet to be delivered to IS with each batch.
    • The paper negatives will have two images associated, a negative and positive. The cataloger will need to make a second image record in JSTOR Forum for the positive image prior to being sent over to IS. The positive image should clearly note the positive image was created from the digitized negative and not an original contemporary print to the negative.
      • Example of language to use: Positive image generated from digitized negative.
  • The cataloger is to arrange with Maggie the delivery of each batch 2-3 days in advance.
  • Change Route to “In Imaging Services for Activity” in Aeon.


It is important to check out material and note where it is in Aeon.

Pulling items:  all items to be cataloged should be checked out in Aeon.

  • From the use houts account, create new request (or clone past request).
  • Mark request for HOU Horblit Photography Cataloging.
  • Import collection information from HOLLIS search. Update Call Number with current items to be cataloged.
  • Note in the Vol/Box/Folder/Item field the number of boxes and/or prints.
  • Make staff note of “with Lilli.”
  • After saving mark Route as “In Technical Services for Activity.”
  • After batch has been delivered to Imaging Services for digitization change Route to “In Imaging Services for Activity.”
  • Once delivered back from Imaging Services change route back to “In Technical Services for Activity”
  • When all quality assurance work is complete and record is published, the cataloger will reshelve prints and update route in Aeon.

Working in JSTOR Forum (formerly Shared Shelf)

Best Practices


Follow these guidelines when selecting subject and name terms:


Names (personal and corporate)- LC NAF is the preferred authority. If the name already exists in JSTOR Forum, select Harvard name over ULAN (confirm the Harvard authority matches the LC Authority). If there is only ULAN in JSTOR Forum, it may be used if it matches LC or HOLLIS, or if no other authority exists. If no authority exists, the cataloger will create one.


Subject terms-prefer AAT over Harvard, if only exists as Harvard term, ok to use. If there is no AAT term in JSTOR Forum and it seems that there should be, search Getty's online database. JSTOR Forum AAT terms are not updated as regularly as the database is. If no AAT or Harvard exists, create a new term from a recognized authority.


Geographic names-TGN is preferred term.


If two prints exist in the collection in different places, the cataloger will make sure there are no discrepancies in the description of the content of these prints. It is preferred that a general note be added to both records to reference the other form of print.

Display Record

Information added at the display record may be added in bulk by exporting records out to excel, updating records, and then import the updated spreadsheet back to JSTOR Forum

Image Repository

Link Houghton Library (JSTOR Forum ID number 9000335445)

Image Accession number

Enter accession number (Horblit Typ Pr #) for the individual image.

Image View Description


For all positive views of negatives add note here.

            Example: Positive image generated from digitized negative.

Work Record Tab




The title of the work record (WR) is a brief description of the print being cataloged.


Owner/Creator Supplied Title


If there is title information provided by the creator/owner on or accompanying the photograph(s), this title information can be used as the title of the WR. Do not use quotations for a supplied title. Instead add a general note to provide information on where the title came from.




Accession: Horblit TypPr 805.T820.178 Sz1

Title: Tower at Lacock Abbey

Note (General): Title from handwritten caption.


Accession:  Horblit TypPr 815.F396.058 Sz2

Title: Temple dit de Vesta, d'Hercule Victor

Note (General): Title from accompanying material.


If the print has title information in a language other than English, the cataloger is to transcribe the title as it appears on the source.[1] If the cataloger is able to determine an accurate translation, this shall be entered in a second title field and select title type as “translated” or “alternate”. * The type will depend on the display in VIA/HOLLIS+.


Title from other source

Many prints in the Horblit collection may be represented in other collections. If there is no title information present, the cataloger may get title information from an identical or similar print and make a general note to reflect this.



Accession:  Horblit TypPr 805.T820.134 Sz1

Title: Woodcutters, Nicole and Pullen sawing and cleaving

Note (General): Title from William Henry Fox Talbot Catalogue Raisonné, Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford.

Devised Title


If there is no supplied title and no title information can be found, the cataloger must devise a title for the WR. The title should be a descriptive but concise narrative of the print. Do not enclose title in brackets. For legacy records that have brackets, these are to be deleted. Add a general note stating the title is devised.


Things to consider when creating a title[2]:

  • The type of image
    • Portrait? Group portrait? View(s)?
    • The subject(s) of the image
      • Are people identified?
      • Is it depicting any events or activities?
      • Is it an object?


In general, note the geographic location in the title if it appears pertinent to the image.


Avoid using abbreviations.


Use full names for persons and corporations.


If the cataloger is unsure of a person, but it is probably that person, include the person’s name and use "probably" or "possibly" before the person's name.


When describing something that is taking place in a photograph, it is recommended the cataloger use the progressive verb tense (-ing form).[3] An exception to this rule is the use of seated instead of sitting.



Accession: Horblit TypPr 805.S801.027 Sz2

Title: Castle ruins, possibly in southeast England

        Note (General): Title devised.


Required if known


Enter creator (photographer or photography studio) information here. Link the photographer’s authority and select role as photographer (role must be linked or name will not display in VIA properly). If multiple authorities exist in JSTOR Forum, select the Harvard authority (make sure it matches the authority as it appears in HOLLIS or LCNAF). If no Harvard authority exists and there is a ULAN authority this may be used only if it matches the LC Name Authority File. If no authority exists, the cataloger will create one.


If it is an attribution, select the name of the photographer and role as photographer, then link in the attribution field the JSTOR Forum term “attributed to”.


Some legacy records are linked to a photographer’s name that is not the preferred term. Unlink this term and link to the preferred authority. The cataloger may need to refresh this field to have this change reflected in the record.


Locations: Places, Repositories, and Private Owners




Link repository and enter call number information. While the number is not an accession number, to be consistent with other Houghton records and other Horblit records the number will remain linked as such. 


        Type: repository

Repository: Houghton Library

        Ref ID: Accession; accession #


The accession number has been entered into legacy records inconsistently. The accession number should be entered as Horblit TypPr [number] Sz[#]


                        Horblit TypPr 820.L529.010 Sz2


Private Owners


For records with the note "Ex. Coll. Sir TP" the cataloger will add Sir Thomas Phillipps as "former owner" in Owner Type field.




Enter the date the photograph was taken. If there is no date provided, the cataloger must try to assign a date or date range to the best of their ability. Clues to look for when dating a photograph include photographic process and format, photographer, subject, etc. Do not use undated or n.d.


            Certain date

            Date Description: 1846 April 15

            Start Date: 1846

            End Date: 1846


            Probable date

            Date Description: 1846?

            Start Date: 1845

            End Date: 1847


            Approximate date

            Date Description: ca. 1846

            Start Date: 1844

            End Date: 1848


            Decade certain

            Date Description: 1850s

            Start Date: 1850

            End Date: 1859


            Decade uncertain

            Date Description: 1850s?

            Start Date: 1850

            End Date: 1859


            One year or the other

            Date Description: 1846 or 1847

            Start Date: 1846

            End Date: 1847


            Date Range

            Date Description: between 1845 and 1850

            Start Date: 1845

            End Date: 1850


If there is a wide range of possible date ranges, the cataloger will enter start and end dates that she thinks the print was created between. If there is a wide range, the date description can be entered as "late 19th century"

Work Types



Vocabulary: AAT preferred


Enter information about the type of photograph. Most prints in the Horblit collection will require two work types. Almost all with have the general term “photographs” and a more descriptive term for the type of photograph.



            Photographs ; salted paper prints

            Photographs ; photogenic drawings (photographic)





Add material and type of material if it is not something one would expect based on the work type.





Vocabulary: AAT preferred


Add the type of photographic process used to create the image or any other special technique used.



Calotype (paper process)

Hand coloring





Enter the image’s dimensions in centimeters, height x width. For irregular shapes enter the height x width and add a descriptive word for the shape.[4] Include the size of the printed image and the size of the mount if present.


Update (September 2017, following conversation with Larry J. Schaaf): Image size (not just total size of paper) is very relevant for early contact prints as it can inform a researcher of the negative size used to create the print. In these cases the image and the paper size will be listed as separate measurements.



            image 17.3 x 21.6 cm ; mount 23.1 x 29.3 cm

            oval image 9 x 7 cm

            image 7.9 x 6.8cm; paper 11.8 x 9.2cm


Required if present


Transcribe anything written on the front or back of the photograph, mount or mat, or accompanying an image. It should be noted if the cataloger is unsure about a word[?], or if the word is [illegible] or [obscured]. If the cataloger knows what a missing word should be, write the missing word in [brackets]. If there is an incorrect spelling of a word or name, transcribe it as is and follow with the correct spelling in brackets. Indicate if something is stamped, embossed, signed or typed. Precede all inscriptions with the location of the note, colon, and the transcribed text. If the inscription is on a non-contemporaneous mount, note this before transcribing.



Printed on front of mount, below image: Lord Raglan, Omar Pacha, General Pelissier. The Council of War held on the morning of the taking of the Mamelon. Photographed by R. Fenton, Manchester. Published by T. Agnew & Sons, Nov[embe]r 19th, 1855. London, P&D Colnaghi & C[o].




Vocabulary: AAT preferred, if only exists as Harvard term, ok to use. If no AAT or Harvard exists, create a new term from a recognized authority.


Subject terms provide added access points for users for terms that might not be noted in other fields. When adding subject terms, think about what the picture is of and what it is about. The cataloger will include general genre terms and get as specific as possible. Names and topical subject terms are entered here. When entering personal and corporate names, select type as “associated name”. When entering location, select type as “associated site”. A type must be selected for name and place terms or these terms will not display properly in VIA. For topical subject index terms, no type is necessary.


Examples of broader terms to add:

            Cityscapes (representations)

            Townscapes (representations)

            Landscapes (representations)


            Street Scenes


            Close-up views


The cataloger should add more descriptive terms as needed to increase discovery and possibilities of a digital humanities project in the future.


Geographic location of a print is to be added as an “associated site” in this field.





If “1 item” note appears in this field, delete.


This field can be used if the cataloger thinks the title needs more descriptive information.


Use as needed


The cataloger may add information that is not covered by other fields in the WR.


Note types that may be used:

  • General [Harvard]: include information that is not recorded elsewhere, but is considered important to the image.
    • Some prints appear to have been mounted by Horblit or someone else later in the life of the print. If this is the case, add a general note stating, "Mount is not contemporaneous to print."
  • In House Notes [Harvard]: move notes about condition and value here.
  • Associated number [Harvard]: include the number if the image is part of the salted paper print survey. Also include the Schaaf no. for early prints associated with Talbot and his circle.


Existing notes in legacy records

Most notes in legacy records may be removed.


Notes often found in legacy records:

Citation/references: this note may be kept as it cites if an image has been published elsewhere for a researcher to get more information.

General: delete inscription notes that are in this section. If there is a Sotheby condition rating or appraisal, this note should be transferred to “In House Notes”. If there is a note "Ex. Coll. Sir TP" the cataloger may move this to an "In House Note" and add Sir Thomas Phillipps as a former owner under agents (confirm this is already added as added by bulk edit September 2017).

Process description:  if there is a process description note in this area of the record that is duplicative of information found elsewhere in the record the note should be deleted.

In House Notes: in house notes from legacy records mainly contain the call number in a form that is not useful. As this information is elsewhere in the collection, this note should be deleted. 




If there is an existing Access restriction note, this can be deleted. The cataloger may need to refresh the display field for it to delete completely.


For all prints:

Rights type: Access restrictions

Content: Cite as: Horblit TypPr [number], Harrison D. Horblit Collection of Early Photography, Houghton Library, Harvard University.


For prints that are sensitive to light, add a second “access restrictions” note

Rights type: Access restrictions

Content: Access to this item is restricted. Please consult collection curator for further information.

Local Info tab




Enter HOLLIS record and collection information here.


Collection Information

Relationships: part of

Relationship type: related work

Description: Harrison D. Horblit collection of early photography


Relationship type: related information

Description: Collection-level record


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