The GBL’s Historic Image Collection: August 2015 – January 2019

by Bailey Foust

I began at the GBL as a work-study student starting my senior year at IU, in fall of 2015. I worked with Alex Elliott on the Type Collection Drawers for my first few weeks before moving onto the Historic Image Collection. At the time my only knowledge of Angel Mounds was that it was near Evansville and that my paternal grandparents took my brother on a trip there without me. Now the majority of what I know comes from working with images of the site. Before I began working with the Historic Image Collection, the media room had the aroma of an open jar of pickles, called vinegar syndrome, it was an evident clue that the lab’s film was deteriorating.

Alex Elliott and Bailey Foust in front of Mound A at Angel Mounds State Historic Site, during the August 2017 solar eclipse. Photo by Corwin A. Deckard.
September 2015 to August 2016

I started with the slide collection, which was housed between two slide cabinets, one equipped with a light box.  Currently there are 7,117 slides in the inventory. I would remove slides by row, record their information, and assign a catalog number. I then digitized the slides, (the scanner model I used was Epson Perfection v700 photo). Eventually the slides were removed from their hangers and placed in archival boxes (there are 35 in total). The slide collection as a whole contains a fair amount of duplication of negatives and Polaroids; it also contains more candid images from digs than the negative collection, which often focus on documenting excavation features.

August 2016 – February 2018

I moved on to the 7,200 negatives; they were originally housed in two filing cabinets with old envelopes. Opening these drawers would release a powerful odor of vinegar syndrome.

The negative inventory was started by Colin Gliniecki, while I worked on the slides, but was completed by me as Colin moved onto other projects.  I started the negative digitization by scanning the 4” x 5” negatives that are in good condition, this is a total of 2,977 negatives. I rehoused the negatives to new envelopes as I scanned them, rewriting the caption as best I could. Since scanning has downtime, I continued writing captions for new envelopes. Eventually I started placing the rehoused negatives in archival boxes. As more negatives went in archival boxes, they were removed from the filing cabinet and placed on shelving in the closet. The vinegar syndrome smell lessened once the negatives had new envelopes and were in archival boxes.

After scanning the 4” x 5”s, Jennifer St. Germain purchased an anti-newton ring glass dry mounting so the approximately 4,500 negatives of other sizes could be scanned. To uses this I had to tape the corners of each negative to the glass. This was more time consuming, as I couldn’t prep the next negative until scanning was complete.

The dry mounting station with anti-newton ring glass used for negative digitization.

A note on condition: Many of the GBL’s negatives are in fine condition but others have experienced deterioration called channeling.

N1668 “A.M. Office Bldgs 10-3-39”. This digitized image of the WPA office buildings shows negative deterioration.

It starts as warping and bubbles in the negative but eventually leads to the emulsion and plastic support separating.

Image Collections Online

Once a sizable number of images had been digitized, Jen worked with IU Digital Libraries to create the GBL’s Image Collections Online Site (ICO). ICO is photo cataloging application that allows us to store and share the GBL’s images.


One of my roadblocks was that I didn’t have an overall sense of people’s names. They often appear as shorthand, a nickname, or just the surname; so it wasn’t always apparent to me that a name was a name. For example “F.M.S.” is Frank Meryl Setzler and “West” is La Mont West. In order to have accurate and consistent information, I started a list of people’s names. This led me to create a directory of persons for Angel Mounds Field Schools 1945-1962. The directory puts together some basic information, a portrait, full name, institution and class during attendance. To help with this task, I looked though the Angel Mounds Associated documents and field school applications.


I suspect that the core print collection was started by Glenn Black, as some of the captions are followed by his initials. The prints are mounted on cards typed with captions, unfortunately the cards are warped. These prints started out in wooden drawers, but were moved to archival boxes.  These boxes have been organized by unit (in the case of Angel Mounds), county (if from Indiana), and state. The number on the card, should in theory, accurately link to the negative (which is now, hopefully, digitized).

With summer ending and the humidity lowering, it was finally time to package the slide and negative boxes for the freezer. In total I packaged 112 boxes. After creating and applying labels to the boxes, they were wrapped in vapor proof barrier.

Tape was applied over all the seams, and an additional label was placed on the barrier exterior. It then went into a bag with a humidity indicator that was sealed and taped up. The difference between packaging slides and negatives, is slides were bagged in groups of 4 and negatives as singles.

Once the freezer was full, Jen and I plugged it in and turned on, it made a happy beeping- I thought it sounded celebratory.

Freezer partially filled with slide and negative boxes.
Here are a few of my favorite images:
Being as smitten as I am by Frances Martin, I have to include a photo of her. This image was digitized from a print (with no negative), and shows William Rude and Frances Martin labeling artifacts in the lab building at Angel Mounds.
This slide (S1698) shows Lilly Marchant, Glenn Black, and Bettye Broyle during the 1954 Angel Mounds field school. I’ve always loved the way this kodachrome slide captures the fire.
This slide (S1573) shows Ida Black and William L. Rude in a canoe at Angel Mounds during the spring flood of 1945. Per the caption, it was taken from the eastern edge of the village with the camera oriented northeast toward the administration area.
A slide (S2046) capturing an “evening storm” during 1959 over lab building at Angel Mounds.
One of my unexpected finds was a negative (N9282) showing Glenn’s paternal Grandparents. The Caption reads: “Personal Glenn A. Black My father’s father and mother. Originals owned by Bert White of Brownsburg, Ind.”
This negative (N2772) shows John Longbons, Elizabeth Brockschlager, and Ann Leist “figuring contours” for S11D during 1951 Angel Mounds field school.

The Glenn Black Lab’s Architectural Beauty

April 18, 2018

by Bailey Foust, Curation Team

At the Glenn A. Black Laboratory of Archaeology, much of our time is spent thinking about artifacts and the space they are occupying. Is there enough space? What is its quality? Can we get more?

Space is a very important resource to us, and what embodies space more than a building? Yet sometimes we need to look at our building as more than a resource and as a beautiful work of architecture. It just so happens a photo recently found in the media archives accomplishes just that.

This image of the Glenn A. Black Laboratory of Archaeology was taken from the corner of 9th Street and Fess Avenue. There was no caption associated with the negative, so dating it relies on the fact that the Mathers Museum of World Cultures is not adjoining the structure; if it were, the East wall, seen on the left, would extend further. The Glenn Black Lab opened in 1971 and the Mathers Museum broke ground in 1980[1], so the photo had to have been taken between those years. Consequently a photo like this is vastly outnumbered by photos showing the two together, as the Glenn Black Laboratory of Archaeology and Mathers Museum have been connected ever since.

This photograph captures and highlights the beauty of the Glenn Black Lab’s exterior architecture, different from the way in which it typically appears in photographs or in person. The framing in this image is interesting because most photos of the Glenn Black Lab focus on the front entrance and sign. Instead this image shows far more of the building, including the north and east walls in their entirety. Increasing the amount of lab visible in the photograph enhances the focus on the architecture and its beauty, whereas photographs of the sign and entrance function as a representation of the institution as a whole. By showing the entire north and east face, the image is able to display a series of very satisfying parallel lines visible in the roof, the trim dividing the building levels, the hand rails, the planter’s edge, and the curb. These lines are further emphasized by their saturated black tones, which results from the image being taken with black and white film.

The film type is also important because the gradients in the tone work with the image’s lighting highlight the lab’s architecture. The cubes visible in the overhang exhibit this range of tone. In regards to the lighting, it is important to note the photograph was taken at night, which causes the light on the building to be different from what it otherwise would be, as it instead originates from the lamps in the overhang. This creates a seamless area of light surrounding the building, and allows light to play off the lab’s surface. Both levels of the building have the same surface texture of vertical lines, but in the image the upper level is reflecting enough light that it appears smooth, while the lower level’s texture is maintained by shadows.

The lab’s staff encourages you to stop by and experience the architecture of the Glenn Black Laboratory of Archaeology for yourself, to see how the building has changed in the last 50 years, and depending on the time of your visit, perhaps experience the beauty of the Glenn Black Lab’s architecture in a way you’re unfamiliar with.

Check out some blueprints of the GBL, which are housed in our archives! (click to enlarge images):