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Rendezvous with History and Geology

Guest Post by Christina Boyd (CARIMAC Intern)

Recently, as an intern at The University of the West Indies Museum, I had the opportunity to assist in cleaning and scanning lantern slides. These photographic slides, a technology that dates to the late 19th century, belong to the Geology Museum (Mona Campus) and are cleaned and scanned for conservation. The collection contained photographic images of mostly landscapes, statues and inscriptions of the Caribbean and Polynesia. Retired Professor Teddy Robinson, who taught in the Geology department from its inception, posited in response to our query that the slides are possibly from the collection of the geologist and lecturer in the department of Geography and Geology, Dr. Chubb. Having the privilege to see and touch artefacts that are tenfold the years you have been alive is holistically awesome. Can you imagine the joy, fascination, excitement and nerves that flooded my body? 

Christina going through the process of cleaning the slides

Albeit, the process was slow and meticulous; I was conscious that I was dealing with precious cargo and no amount of money could replace them. Furthermore, damaging any of them is one burden I could not bear. It was fascinating to see the images as I cleaned them, which in turn evoked several questions. How were the images developed in the form of lantern slides? Who thought of this? It reminded me of the film used in minolta cameras, explicit evidence of the evolution of technologies.

Scanning the lanterns was even more fascinating, I no longer had to squint or hold the lanterns to a primary source of light to get a clear picture. It was interesting to think that these little pieces of glass had played such an important role in shaping the way people thought about the world around them. The meticulous care and slow pace was worth it to see the images come to life on our computer screen. 
Photograph of the 1907 calendar

Perhaps the most exciting part of the experience was when we stumbled upon a sheet from a calendar dated February 1907. Remember that joy, fascination and nerves I mentioned before? At that moment, those emotions went through the roof. The delicacy of this calendar sheet gave me a sense of pride as finding such an artefact was not foreseen. At a closer look, we realised that this calendar was used to jot general descriptions of the lantern slides, presumably by the primary owner.

Photograph of the back of the calendar with the description of the slides

This rendezvous with the past is one that I will always cherish; it served as a reminder of the importance of preserving our past and the significance that historical artefacts hold.

Slide documenting Devil’s Bridge and Indian Town in Indian Town in Antigua, B.W.I

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