In 2001 Neil, Reba and Jessica Porter donated an assortment of photographs of uncertain provenance and in need of conservation to the University of Delaware, known for its outstanding photographs conservation program. Found in Maryland, the late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century photographs include tintypes, albumen prints, matte collodion prints, silver gelatin printing-out prints (POP), silver gelatin developing-out prints (DOP) and one halftone. Among the 53 objects are studio portraits taken by photographers in the Baltimore area; the donated photographs became known as “The Baltimore Collection,” and entered the Museums Collections. In 2019, they were transferred to Special Collections in the University of Delaware Library. The collection contains photographs from other areas, including Philadelphia, Atlantic City, and Washington, D.C. Most individual sitters have yet to be fully identified; many appear to be Black or African American.
This site complements the digital archive for “The Baltimore Collection” and the subsequently established Black Portrait Photograph Collection. The metadata developed for their Artstor presentations was created by University of Delaware students. The foundational research on both collections was undertaken by the student scholars of Curating Hidden Collections & the Black Archive, fall 2017 and spring 2021 seminars. The collaborative endeavor has and will continue to engage librarians, curators, faculty, and guest scholars, in the responsibility for the afterlifes of these collections, the individuals portrayed therein and the potential of the archives to inform and enhance our world and that of others.