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Proposed: Henry W. Furniss Photograph Digital Collection

Collection Curator: Paul Losch

Date needed: When available. Access to files is contingent on holder allowing UF to borrow materials for digitization so must accommodate the lender/digital file donor schedule

Source of funds: LAC Title VI funds may be used.  This is a digitization and acquisitions project

What is the initial project idea?
In the course of conducting research, Paul Losch met the granddaughter of Henry W. Furniss, the US Minister to Haiti from 1905 to 1913.  He was an amateur photographer, and the granddaughter has a collection of 142 B&W photos that he took and developed himself during his time there.  Some are 2 x 3 and some are about 5 x 8.  Most are now loose, although many were mounted in albums.  A few are still in albums, and most have notes, either on the back or in the album, that would help to provide metadata.

The collection includes scenes of the US legation in Port au Prince and at the Minister's "summer house" in the hills at Martissant.  Many of these show important Haitian officials (including presidents) as well as US naval officers during the occupation (Furniss remained in Haiti as a private citizen for a few years).  Other scenes depict life in the countryside, and "tourist landmarks" such as the Citadel.  Three of Furniss's photos were used as illustrations in the book, The Negro in the New World by Sir Harry H. Johnston.  (see http://books.google.com/books?id=iZCbPG0zD48C, pp. 140, 166, 201). 

Aside from the value of the photos as a historical record, the photographer himself is also notable figure for various reasons.  He was one of the few African-American diplomats of the time period.  In effect, he was "Ambassador to Haiti," although there was no such formal title until 1943.    He served eight years as the chief US diplomat in Haiti during a period of intense international competition, just before the First World War.   Prior to serving there, he was US consul in Bahia, Brazil, from 1898-1905.    He was a medical doctor, having studied at Howard University and at Harvard University, where he was first African-American to study in the graduate medical program. 

The owners are very agreeable to the idea of loaning the photos to make them available in digital format.  The diplomat's granddaughter, Diane Happy Furniss, and her husband visited Gainesville recently, from their home in Sarasota.  Paul Losch corresponded with them about an article he wrote about Henry Furniss’ work in Brazil, and they are interested in consulting sources Paul located on microfilm here at UF.  They have proposed coming back to UF for at least two more visits, in order to do further research.  Paul proposed to them that they bring the photos on their first visit, and we could have them processed and ready to take by the time they come again (say, two months later).  They seemed agreeable to working with our schedule.

UF already owns a set of photos taken 10 or 15 years later (in the Crumbie Papers).  The Digital Library of the Caribbean already contains another set of photos of Haiti made in the 1930s, owned and scanned by the Archives Nationales d'Haiti.  This Furniss collection would complement these existing holdings, and would be valuable both to US scholars and to our partners in Haiti.

Materials

What will be digitized?

  • 142 black and white photographs, some are 2 x 3 and some are 5 x 8

Condition:

  • Good condition. Most of the photos are loose, although some were in albums

Copyright:

  • Permissions have been granted by the copyright holder

Metadata available:

  • General scope metadata already available: creator (Henry W. Furniss, the US Minister to Haiti), year span (1905-1913), country (Haiti)
  • Additional notes are on each photo and are also of identifiable locations by LAC Librarians

Impact and Sustainability

How will users interact with the end product? How does this collection enhance existing library collections, departments or research at UF? Who is the audience for this digital project?

  • The 142 photos would be added to the Digital Library of the Caribbean. UF already owns a set of photos taken 10 or 15 years later (in the Crumbie Papers).  The Digital Library of the Caribbean already contains another set of photos of Haiti made in the 1930s, owned and scanned by the Archives Nationales d'Haiti.  This Furniss collection would complement these existing holdings, and would be valuable both to US scholars and to our partners in Haiti.

Is the material already digitized and online? What other libraries or groups may be digitizing it or in partnering (local museums, public libraries, publishers, community groups)?

  • These photos are not online and not available other than through the donor. Digitizing these 142 photos may lead to other partnerships, but this would be too small to make a new partnership effective. Digitizing these 142 photos would benefit existing partnerships.

What impact will digitization have on your daily workload and on other units?

  • Metadata will be supplied.
  • If a finding aid is needed, LAC commits the resources to create the finding aid.

For sustainability, future grant development, patron and partner assistance, and all of the digital collection management requirements, are you able to commit resources, both for initial creation and for ongoing maintenance and support?

  • Yes