Contributions to the 7th AICCM Book, Paper and Photographic Materials Symposium 29g31 August 2012 Brisbane, Australia
During the floods and cyclones of 2011, some of the most poignant television footage was of victims standing in the wreckage of their homes heartbroken at the loss of precious family photographs.A staggering number of private collections were severely damaged or lost by prolonged immersion in contaminated water and inappropriate salvage methods.The research outlined in this paper is a direct response to the ongoing challenge of effectively disseminating salvage information to the community. During the retrieval process of a large, historically significant private photographic collection in the 2011 Queensland floods, a number of photographic processes did not respond as expected and certain treatment processes had to be hastily adapted to allay further damage.This experience was invaluable and provoked the need to reassess current salvage recommendations for historical photographic processes. A review of standard recommended priorities and treatment methods for contemporary and historic photographic processes was undertaken and commonly recommended salvage methods tested.The outcomes from this review were then re-evaluated using practical knowledge gained during the Queensland salvage operation.The main objective of this re-evaluation process is the development of a new easy to use salvage guide for use by caretakers of photographic collections. The guide will be available on the Queensland Museum’s Museum Development Officer’s website after testing and feedback from volunteers who have had no previous disaster training.