Comma 2002.3-4: Jeremy Adamson and Helena Zinkham, The Prokudin-Gorskii Legacy: Color Photographs of the Russian Empire, 1905-1915
The gifted Russian photographer and scientist, Sergei Mikhailovick Prokudin-Gorskii (1863-1944), created an extraordinary visual survey of the Russian Empire between 1905 and 1915. His collection of some 2,600 images is now widely available for the first time through the U.S. Library of Congress’ Prints and Photographs Online Catalog. This article explores the collection’s research value and describes techniques for cataloging and digitizing photographs. The first section presents Prokudin-Gorskii’s biography, and includes explanations of his rare color photo technique and the subjects he chose to survey. The second section outlines general tips for describing and scanning both glass negatives and albums by reviewing this complex collection’s long processing history, which coincided with the transition of the Library’s Division of Fine Arts into a documentary pictorial archive called the Division of Prints and Photographs.