John Shaw Billings Photograph Albums, 1875-1939

South Caroliniana Library

The series of photograph albums document the time that John Shaw Billings (1898-1975) and his extended fmaily spent at the Redcliffe plantation in Aiken County, South Carolina. Known for his position as the first managing editor of Life Magazine, Billings purchased Redcliffe in 1935 from his uncle Henry Cumming Hammond (1868-1961) for $15,000. Even before the purchase, however, Billings’ family had owned the estate since its founding: former South Carolina Governor James Henry Hammond, who was also Billings’ great-granfather, built Redcliffe.

There are a total of 62 photograph albums in the John Shaw Billings Papers collection, housed at the South Caroliniana Library. The South Caroliniana Library and the Digital Activities Center will continue to offer selected digital versions of these albums in the future.

Al Hester, Historic Sites Coordinator, of the SC Department of Parks, Recreation, and Tourism, suggested these albums and provided funding for their digitization. The South Caroliniana Library allowed the Digital Activities Department to access the albums for scanning and digitization. Margaret Hawes (MLIS, 2008), Sarah Fletcher (MLIS, 2007), and Bethany McGowan (MLIS, 2009) created the metadata for Volume 1 in an Excel spread sheet; Hawes and Fletcher also created the metadata for Volume 3. The metadata records follow the Western States Best Practices Dublin Core format. McGowan and Santi Thompson (MLIS, 2008) scanned Volume 1 and Fletcher and Thompson scanned Volume 3 on a flatbed Epson Expression 10000 XL Scanner, using Silverfast scanning software. They scanned the images as color TIFFs at 24-bit and 600 ppi. From the TIFFs Fletcher, McGowan, and Thompson created high quality JPEGs and added preservation metadata to the TIFF and JPEG images. Thompson uploaded the Volume 1 JPEGs to the CONTENTdm server; Fletcher uploaded Volume 3. The TIFFs will be maintained as the archival masters on a SAN server, backed-up to DVD and tape. Fletcher and Thompson created a home page for the collection.

The work could also not have been done without the help of Tony Branch, of the Systems Department, who is the systems administrator for the CONTENTdm database and helps to manage the computers and scanners in the Digital Activities Department.

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