The Center for American History is really the University's agency to support and facilitate research, teaching and really public education in U.S. History. We believe that photojournalism is a key component of the way that news is seen and perceived in this country today.
Those photographs could be used very importantly as evidence when you're doing research in history. I felt that it was very important for us to go out and start collecting and preserving the originals of these images and negatives and so forth. I began to realize the Center for American History could actually fill a niche in this area.
And that is to tell these photojournalists, "We'll take those and we will keep them for you."
So we've really made an effort to try, very selectively, to go and get their entire archive of their work. And that means not only all of their negatives and their prints and their proofs, but also their correspondence, their contracts, their memorabilia and cameras. The things that make up their life.
We have a philosophy here where we don't just sit back and hope someone is going to come here and use the collections. We actually work our collections. We bring scholars in and say, "Why don't you do a book on this particular collection?"
The point is they knew their photographs weren't going to come here and stay in boxes and gather dust in the basement. We do put them in proper storage and then we will put out inventories of the collections that we'll put on the web. And, give people an understanding of what kind of images we have here in these various collections. Then, they can contact us and they can come here and they can literally come and look at this work.
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