Digitizing the William S. Ladd Collection of Prints

By Robin Naughton, Head of Digital

We are excited to launch a new digital collection: the William S. Ladd Collection of Prints!

In 1975, The New York Academy of Medicine accepted the gift of the William S. Ladd collection, which consisted of 671 prints dating from the 17th – 19th centuries, from Cornell University Medical College via Erich Meyerhoff, then Librarian of the Medical College Library.   Since receiving the Ladd Collection, the Library rehoused and conserved the material. In the Spring of 2018, the Library submitted a proposal for funding to the Metropolitan New York Library Council’s (METRO) New York State Regional Bibliographic Database Program to digitize the Ladd Collection.  The grant proposal was accepted, and the Library began the process to digitize the Ladd Collection and make it available to the public. METRO provided the funds to scan the collection and the Library provided the resources to build a digital collection website.

Because the Ladd Collection was already conserved and in a ready-to-digitize state, we sent the collection out for scanning soon after receiving funding.  While the collection was being scanned, we turned our attention to the metadata created during the conservation process. The metadata, created for a different purpose, needed to be enhanced for the digital collection.  For the launch, we decided on seven pieces of metadata that would provide users with enough information to understand each print.

Metadata Field Example
Title Aesculapius
Portrait Subject (LC) Asklepios (Greek deity)
Aesculapius (Roman deity)
Collection William S. Ladd Collection of Prints
Repository The New York Academy of Medicine
Genre Prints
Illustration Technique Engraving
ID ladd_010

“Title” is the most critical piece of information because it describes the subject of the portrait and is an easy way to identify the context of the image. Where possible, the Library of Congress (LC) subject is identified.

“Illustration Technique” is an additional piece of information that describes the story of the technology used to develop the portrait.  Researchers and general users can explore the collection by “Illustration Technique,” including etching, stipple, engraving, mezzotint, and lithograph. With each technique hyperlinked in the collection, users can click to see all the prints in the collection with that technique. The top three techniques are engraving (~339 prints), lithograph (~115 prints) and stipple (~61 prints).

Aesculapius. Example of engraving.

Aesculapius. Example of engraving. Image: William S. Ladd Collection of Prints, New York Academy of Medicine.

Récamier, Joseph Claude Anthelme. Example of a lithograph

Récamier, Joseph Claude Anthelme. Example of a lithograph. Image: William S. Ladd Collection of Prints, New York Academy of Medicine.

Widmann, Johann Wilhelm. Example of stipple technique.

Widmann, Johann Wilhelm. Example of stipple technique. Image: William S. Ladd Collection of Prints, New York Academy of Medicine.

As users explore the collection, it becomes clear that there are mostly prints of men.  However, there is a print of a woman in the collection who is described as the wife of Michel Schuppach.

Marie Flückigger

Flückigger, Marie. Image: The William S. Ladd Collection of Prints, New York Academy of Medicine.

There are also prints of a few hospitals, including Brooklyn City Hospital (now the Brooklyn Hospital Center).

Brooklyn City Hospital

Brooklyn City Hospital. Image: William S. Ladd Collection of Prints. New York Academy of Medicine.

Digitizing the Ladd collection provides broad access to the public and an opportunity for researchers, conservators, artists, and the general public to explore early print technology (17th to 19th centuries) from any web-enabled device.  So, take some time to read more about the history of the collection and the important figures in medicine and science, compare multiple printing techniques, and discover these amazing works of art in our new digital collection.

Click here to check out our new digital collection.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized by nyamhistory. Bookmark the permalink.

About nyamhistory

The Center for the History of Medicine and Public Health, which includes the Library, promotes the scholarly and public understanding of the history of medicine and public health and the history of the book. Established in 2012, the Center aims to build bridges among an interdisciplinary community of scholars, educators, clinicians, curatorial and conservation professionals, and the general public. The Center’s Library is one of the largest medical collections in the United States open to the general public, to whom it has been available since 1878.

One thought on “Digitizing the William S. Ladd Collection of Prints

  1. Pingback: William S. Ladd Prints, Honeybee Folk Music, Facebook, More: Monday Afternoon ResearchBuzz, December 24, 2018 – ResearchBuzz

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