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.
|Portrait Subject (LC)||Asklepios (Greek deity)
Aesculapius (Roman deity)
|Collection||William S. Ladd Collection of Prints|
|Repository||The New York Academy of Medicine|
“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).
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.
There are also prints of a few hospitals, including Brooklyn City Hospital (now the Brooklyn Hospital Center).
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.