Sorting Loose Prints

In the archive, we have several photo albums for the 1934 to 1939 excavations at Avebury. Each album shows us how Alexander Keiller and his team carefully excavated and lifted the stones in the outer circle and down West Kennet Avenue.

the photo shows four photos on a photo album page of workers lifting a stone
Page 70 in photo album B (78510301_070)

Alexander Keiller was very particular about which photo prints he used in the albums so we have a lot of loose spare prints that did not make the cut.

This means that we have to individually check each print to see if it is a duplicate or an original. To do this we have a quick and easy process.

First, we start by dividing the prints into piles. We separate the prints by their film reel number, which Alexander Keiller wrote in the bottom right corner of the print.

the photo shows 8 piles of loose black and white prints
Loose prints for photo album G sorted by film reel

Once sorted we search our excel catalogue to check if any of the prints are already in the album.

an excel spreadsheet with the find tool open
searching film numbers on the spreadsheet

Occasionally we will find that one of the loose prints is already in the album. In this case, we open the photo album to check if the image is the same in the print as it is in the album.

two identical prints of a standing stone
Loose print and Photo Album G (78510306)

Loose prints that are identical to the photo album are separated out from those that are not. This is because we only want to photograph prints that are not already in the albums.

Once a box is sorted into photos already in the album and those that are not it is put back on the shelf to be photographed later.

By Caitlin

Caitlin is an Archaeology, Anthropology, and Forensics student at Bournemouth University, graduating class of 2024. During her placement year, she spent 6 months as Digitisation Assistant for the Avebury Papers Project.

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