Archives FAQ: Unidentified Images

pc_ma_2159_neg - COH Archives watermark

The City of Hope Archives historic photograph collections comprise thousands of images. Regrettably, many of these photos are sent to the archives with very little identifying information. This being the case, archivists use the evidence that is available to them in order to accurately convey the historic significance of an image.

For example, this photograph of a lab technician was found in the Medical Arts department files without any identifying information. Nevertheless, there are a few significant clues to its origins.

First, the format of the negative is 4×5 sheet film. Sheet film is a large format photographic film supplied on individual sheets, rather than rolls. Additionally, sheet film has notches cut into one side. These notch patterns, or notch codes, enables film type identification. The notch code of this image identifies it as Kodak Royal Pan Film 4141, black & white film. This film was manufactured by Eastman Kodak in the early 1950’s, and was widely used in the 1950’s and 1960’s.

While archivists often do not have as much specific information as they would like to have about the historic materials in their collections, they favor evidence-based information over folklore.

To learn more about the City of Hope Archives contact Susan Yates, Archives Program Manager, at syates@coh.org or Jennifer Miller, Digitization Archivist, at jennmiller@coh.org.

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