Two weeks ago I visited the Ryerson and Burnham Libraries at the Art Institute of Chicago to take some digital images for this class. I had written about Chicago’s second World’s Fair, “A Century of Progress” held in 1933-1934 in a previous class, and was curious to see what kinds of material related to the fair were held at the library.
I chose to focus on postcards from the Century of Progress, specifically on ones that seem to not be official fair-sanctioned souvenirs. These postcards all riff on the fair’s theme of “progress” in some way.
I ran into a few issues when taking these pictures that even a liberal use of Photoshop may not be able to fix.
I used my phone camera to capture the images, and I think it performed fairly well. However, the postcards were all encased in a protective sleeve that reflected light in an unfortunate way, and I was not sure how to mitigate this problem. I tried angling the photos in a certain way to minimize the reflections, but this meant the photos were not straight and some of them are somewhat out of focus.
I think even a liberal use of Photoshop might not be able to make these photos of high enough quality to be featured in a digital humanities project. However, my initial visit had the effect of familiarizing me with the collections, and on a return visit I will be better prepared to deal with these problems.