Processing the Dan McDonald collection

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The Dan McDonald collection was acquired by Bill Lind on 6th March 1996 and processed at the Trust by 1997. The following text has been taken from the introduction to the catalogue and provides an explaination by Bill of how the collection was processed and what was known about it.

Unfortunately, no form of negative register or other record was available, which might have been of use in cataloguing the collection. Shortly afterwards, it became known that the Museum of Transport, Glasgow, had purchased Mr. Mcdonald’s collection of shipping postcards and some notebooks from his daughter Muriel some years beforehand. An inspection of these volumes, containing contact prints from each negative, proved that this was the system used as a register for, at least part of the collection from 1945. The earlier negatives from 1920 were also represented by contact prints and stored in cardboard boxes and marked, Sail, Schooners, Fishing, Puffer Holiday, Post-war Steam, Coasters and the like. In addition, not one of these negatives had been stored in a negative bag with any written identification of the subject or date of exposure.

In preparing the first edition of the catalogue, a number of factors was taken into account:

  1. The collection is very well known to those interested in maritime affairs.
  2. The time required to accurately describe and list each negative.
  3. The number of requests for information about the present status of the collection.
  4. The increasing number of requests for prints from negatives in the collection.
  5. The lack of any earlier attempt to make a catalogue or index of all of the negatives.

Taking the foregoing into account, it was decided to compile a very basic catalogue giving only the vessel’s name, it’s date of build, any reference used previously and the number of negatives for each vessel, thereby making the information available quickly. Had the decision been to handle and describe each negative separately then, access should have been denied for several years.

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