Hochhausler Collection

This is the last day of work at the Biblioteca Nacional (BN). It has been a privilege and an amazing experience to be part of APEX_Santiago. I was part of the team that processed the Hochhausler Collection (Claudia, Rob, Juana, and Pamela). The BN received the Ignacio Hochhausler Collection from the son Ignacio Hochhausler in November 2015. The donation included over 500 photo negatives and 24 boxes and canisters of 8mm black/white and color film stock that ranged between 25-200ft in length. There was a loose reel that needed a container. Once we confirmed the inventory list by cross-referencing the QR code, we inspected each item and replaced them with preservation containers. We realized that one box contained two reels; one box contained an unprocessed film roll; one reel had to be replaced because it was too small and the film was falling off; and one reel needed to be isolated immediately because of the strong vinegar smell coming from acetate film base degradation.

The team then made an assessment of the condition of each film roll and decided whether it was acetate or polyester film base. We began by counting the splices and sprocket hole damage, and looked closely to detect any emulsion or base damage. Because of our limited time, we prioritized and repaired the reels that had less than 20 damage. We cleaned and added leader to the front and end of each film. On each leader we included the QR code, title, collection name, repository location, and whether it was the head or tail of the film. We added A-D strips to check for acidity levels and measured the film against liter to discern shrinkage. There were some additional materials found in the original containers that were noted and preserved separately from the film; we found a rubber band that was made specifically to hold film footage on reels and a Kodak laboratory processing receipt from the 1940s.

We looked for any evidence of edge code to confirm the date and brand of the film stock on the box. Most of the film stock used was Kodak and Kodachrome with the exception of two Ansco reels, which needed to be replaced because they were made out of paper and did not meet the archival preservation standards. We entered all the data in an inspection report spreadsheet including information found on the boxes and canisters. Some footage was scratched, stained, warped, and burnt from the projector. Surprisingly, most of this of the 1930s to late 1940s footage has remained in good condition and we were able to project and digitize it at the telecine station that Julio, Kate, Molly and Jeanette created.

My favorite part of evaluating the collection was trying to figure out the content. We knew that Ignacio Hochhausler Silverberger was born in Vienna, Austria in 1892 and moved to Chile in 1926, where his brother was already settled. He became a famous photographer taking black and white photographs of the children of the Chilean elite. He went on to shoot portraits of everyday people and artists, documented the different landscapes and rural environments, and put a spotlight on farm life and traditional activities, leaving a valuable archive of Chilean history. He exhibited his work around the world and received many distinguished awards and was a founding member of the Foto Cine Club of Chile. The 8mm film footage that was donated complements his photography collection because it depicts similar imagery and artistic sensibility. Some of the footage we discovered include rare earthquake footage from1939, the forest from Tolhuaca National Park, Volcán Maclor in 1952, and possibly, footage of Hochhausler himself with his family.  There was also one reel that seemed to be Hochhausler’s only titled film, “Nuestro Film, Los Amigos y Las 5 Perlas – 1939”.

There is so much more I could write about — lesson learned, best practices of the preservation field, highlights of the beautiful city and people of Santiago, but I will end it here and will continue to share my experience via the APEXNYU instagram page and my own personal travel log. Many thanks to our wonderful hosts (BN, Señal 3, and Museo de la Memoria), professors (Mona, Howard, Jim), mentors (Lorena, Juana, and Julio), and all the APEX crew for giving me one of the best and most challenging life-changing experiences of my new archiving career.

––Martha Diaz


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