INFO 284-11
Seminar in Archives and Records Management
Topic: Photographic Preservation
Summer 2020 Syllabus

Gawain Weaver
Contact information: E-mail is the best way to reach me, (415) 717-0264
Office location: Forest Knolls, CA
Office Hours: 10 am-6 pm Pacific Daylight Time

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Canvas Information: Courses will be available beginning June 1st, 6 am PT unless you are taking an intensive or a one-unit or two-unit class that starts on a different day. In that case, the class will open on the first day that the class meets.

You will be enrolled in the Canvas site automatically.


Course Description

“Preservation of Photographs” offers a broad introduction to the history, technology, identification, and care of photographic materials from 1839 to the present day. Photographic and photomechanical processes will be examined and discussed in detail. A sample set of 18 historic photographs and a handheld microscope give the student experience in identification of photographic processes.

Topics on the care and preservation of photographs include understanding photographic deterioration, selection of appropriate enclosures, environmental monitoring, the effects of temperature and relative humidity on collections, the importance of cold storage for certain photographic materials, and digitization issues for photographic images within a preservation environment.

Course Requirements

This course will be conducted using the Canvas course management system. Lectures are posted weekly with relevant discussion forum questions to encourage discussion. Assignments and or quizzes for each week are included in each Lesson. Students are required to:

  • Complete all readings
  • View/listen to weekly lectures
  • Respond weekly to discussion items
  • Complete assignments (scavenger hunts) as posted on Canvas
  • Complete quizzes as posted on Canvas
  • Submit the 2000-word research paper electronically by midnight on the last day of class


The online discussions, quizzes, and scavenger hunts are distributed throughout the ten weeks of the course

  • Week 1-8: assignments support: CLO #1
  • Week 9: assignment supports: CLO #4
  • Research Paper: assignment supports: CLO #1  and or CLO #4
  • Participation in Online Discussions
    A significant portion of the grade in this course is based on participation in online discussions. Such participation should demonstrate your completion and thoughtful analysis of the weekly readings and lectures through original postings and replies to other students' postings. As stated in the Discussion Forum Grading Rubric, 1 original post and 1 reply to another student’s post is required each week. Each post and each reply is scored on a scale of 1-25. The average of these is your point score for the discussion for that week. If you fail to make either posting, you will receive a 0 for that posting.
  • Research Paper
    The text of this formal research paper should be no less than 2000 words not including citations or bibliography. The topic must be approved by the instructor and should be on a photograph preservation topic (not photo history or aesthetics). A one-paragraph description of the topic is due by Sunday, July 5th (earlier is fine). The formal research paper will be graded on the quality and depth of your research, and your critical analysis of the literature. Reference list should include at least 10 citations, and a bibliography is not necessary but may be included if you wish to list sources not cited but used in your background research.  Formatting and references should adhere to the rules of the APA Publication Manual. The research paper is due by midnight on the last day of class.
  • Quizzes
    Quizzes are administered through Canvas and do not require production of a separate document. There are 8 quizzes throughout the course, and they are worth 20 points each. They can be taken only once. The questions are formulated from the course lectures and readings. The questions can be tricky and require some thought and research to answer correctly.
  • Scavenger Hunts
    Four scavenger hunts (15 points each) will be assigned during the course. Two of them will involve research on a photographic process (short bibliography, weblinks, early examples of the process in a museum, archive, or library imagebase or website), and two of them will involve using Graphics Atlas - to find and describe specific views of a photograph

Course Calendar
Important Dates to Remember (subject to change with adequate notice):

June 1 Class Begins
July 5 Research Paper Topic Due
August 7 Research Paper Due, Class End


Week Topic
1 Introduction: History and Technology of Photography
2 Cased Images, Negatives, and Silver
3 Intro to Print ID, Silver-based print processes
4 Non-silver print processes, and Photomechanical
5 Color Photography
6 Digital Prints
7 Deterioration of Photographs
8 Enclosures and Preservation Environment
9 Digitization
10 Complete Research Paper, no lectures or other assignments

The deadline for weekly quizzes and other weekly assignments is midnight on Sunday at the end of each class week, unless specified otherwise in Canvas. Late submissions will be reduced by 20% of the total points possible for that assignment. 

All dates subject to change with fair notice

Course Grading
Everyone begins the class with a grade of “B” the standard grade for graduate work. Students who complete all assignments on time and as assigned will receive a B provided the quality of work meets the minimum requirements commensurate with graduate work. Above standard work is defined as clearly displays one or more of the following criteria:

  • Originality in the approach to the assignment
  • Greater depth of analysis above and beyond the basic assignment.
  • Substantive comments to the discussion board that indicate a depth of understanding beyond simple summary of readings and questions.
  • Superior organizational, written, or communication skills in the presentation of materials.
  • Use of The Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, Sixth Edition, as the official style manual for formats, citations, and bibliography. Please see for a list of sources providing assistance.

Penalties are assessed in the following situations:

  • Errors in spelling, grammar, and syntax will be subject to penalty based upon rate of errors and not using APA format.
  • Disorganized format, lack of structure, and failing to follow the full assignment will be subject to penalty.

Assignments will contribute to your final grade as follows:

Participation in Online Discussions 200 points
Formal Research Paper 200 points
8 Online Quizzes (20 points each) 160 points
4 Scavenger Hunts (15 points each) 60 points




The total number of points for this class is 620. See grading scale below to translate into a letter grade.

Late Assignments
Late submissions will be reduced by 20% of the total points possible for that assignment. All weekly assignments (quizzes, scavenger hunts, online discussion posts, etc) are due by midnight Sunday at the end of each class week).

Extra Credit
Extra credit will be given for the creation of Quick ID Sheets (2 Quick ID Sheets maximum, up to 10 points for each one, judged for completeness and accuracy), for any photographic or photomechanical process for which a Quick ID Sheet is not already provided in the course materials. A template and instructions are provided in Canvas.

Required Materials:

Recommended Texts (NOT required):

  • Gascoigne, B., (2004). How to Identify Prints. 2nd edition. New York: Thames and Co. (Suggested)
  • Lavédrine, B., J.-P. Gandolfo, et al. (2003). A guide to the preventive conservation of photograph collections. Los Angeles: Getty Conservation Institute. (Suggested)
  • Ritzenthaler, M. L., D. Vogt-O'Connor, et al. (2006). Photographs: archival care and management. Chicago: Society of American Archivists. (Suggested)

Course Workload Expectations

Success in this course is based on the expectation that students will spend, for each unit of credit, a minimum of forty-five hours over the length of the course (normally 3 hours per unit per week with 1 of the hours used for lecture) for instruction or preparation/studying or course related activities including but not limited to internships, labs, clinical practica. Other course structures will have equivalent workload expectations as described in the syllabus.

Instructional time may include but is not limited to:
Working on posted modules or lessons prepared by the instructor; discussion forum interactions with the instructor and/or other students; making presentations and getting feedback from the instructor; attending office hours or other synchronous sessions with the instructor.

Student time outside of class:
In any seven-day period, a student is expected to be academically engaged through submitting an academic assignment; taking an exam or an interactive tutorial, or computer-assisted instruction; building websites, blogs, databases, social media presentations; attending a study group;contributing to an academic online discussion; writing papers; reading articles; conducting research; engaging in small group work.

Course Prerequisites

INFO 284 has no prequisite requirements.

Course Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of the course, students will be able to:

  1. Identify and explain preservation concerns for many common types of photographic (print and negative) processes.
  2. Apply archival rules of appraisal, arrangement, and description to complex visual archives.
  3. Identify the complex issues relating to photograph digitization and born digital images, including management, access, metadata, and long-term preservation.
  4. Implement cold storage solutions for photographic materials

Core Competencies (Program Learning Outcomes)

INFO 284 supports the following core competencies:

  1. F Use the basic concepts and principles related to the selection, evaluation, organization, and preservation of physical and digital information items.


No Textbooks For This Course.

Grading Scale

The standard SJSU School of Information Grading Scale is utilized for all iSchool courses:

97 to 100 A
94 to 96 A minus
91 to 93 B plus
88 to 90 B
85 to 87 B minus
82 to 84 C plus
79 to 81 C
76 to 78 C minus
73 to 75 D plus
70 to 72 D
67 to 69 D minus
Below 67 F


In order to provide consistent guidelines for assessment for graduate level work in the School, these terms are applied to letter grades:

  • C represents Adequate work; a grade of "C" counts for credit for the course;
  • B represents Good work; a grade of "B" clearly meets the standards for graduate level work or undergraduate (for BS-ISDA);
    For core courses in the MLIS program (not MARA, Informatics, BS-ISDA) — INFO 200, INFO 202, INFO 204 — the iSchool requires that students earn a B in the course. If the grade is less than B (B- or lower) after the first attempt you will be placed on administrative probation. You must repeat the class if you wish to stay in the program. If - on the second attempt - you do not pass the class with a grade of B or better (not B- but B) you will be disqualified.
  • A represents Exceptional work; a grade of "A" will be assigned for outstanding work only.

Graduate Students are advised that it is their responsibility to maintain a 3.0 Grade Point Average (GPA). Undergraduates must maintain a 2.0 Grade Point Average (GPA).

University Policies

Per University Policy S16-9, university-wide policy information relevant to all courses, such as academic integrity, accommodations, etc. will be available on Office of Graduate and Undergraduate Programs' Syllabus Information web page at: Make sure to visit this page, review and be familiar with these university policies and resources.

In order to request an accommodation in a class please contact the Accessible Education Center and register via the MyAEC portal.

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