History, technology and conservation: a holistic approach on describing photographic equipment [EN]

Joana Sobral


Under the scope of the Photo Impulse project, the study of photographic cameras used in
Portuguese scientific missions, between 1883 and 1975 in the colonial context is being
developed. Being part of scientific equipment’s collections, it was acknowledged the necessity
to have an instrument with controlled language that allows the identification, description, and
characterisation of historical photographic equipment. Aiming to overcome this panorama, this
study focuses the research regarding the survey of the tools used by institutions around the
world for describing photographic cameras and accessories. For this purpose, 53 entities that
develop assorted activities related to these types of objects from diferent countries were
contacted. With the data gathered, it was realised the need of a description tool, using
standardised terminology, that intersects detailed data description such as historical and
technical aspects, materials, conservation, and curatorship, crossing context of past use and
photographs that were produced by that specific cameras. Considering this scenario, we
propose and discuss key elements to be included in a possible layout for a standardized
description form, suitable to be used in diferent research spheres. It is believed that the
standardization will facilitate and promote the difusion and exchange of knowledge about this
type of equipment, present in numerous collections around the world. Also, it can contribute
for the construction of a history of the use of photography on scientific missions and colonial


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