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Grant number: PG-52189-14

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Indiana University of Pennsylvania Research Institute (Indiana, PA 15701-2898)
Harrison Wick (Project Director: May 2013 to present)

Preserving the Coffman Photograph Collection

The hiring of a consultant to conduct a collection assessment of the Coffman Photograph Collection, followed by staff training on proper handling and rehousing techniques for photographic collections. The collection comprises 16,000 images spanning the 50-year career of photojournalist Wilbur L. Coffman. From 1922 to 1942, Coffman worked as a photographer for the "Pittsburgh Post-Gazette" documenting the city's political gatherings, crime scenes, disasters, and visits by celebrities. In 1943, Coffman was hired by the Office of War Information to document Allied relief and reconstruction activities in the Mediterranean Theater during World War II. Following the war, he established a commercial studio that, over a 30-year span, captured local business activities, family portraits, and social customs in Indiana, Pennsylvania. Collectively, the images, dating between 1947 and 1979, present a rich record of western Pennsylvania's coal mining industry and the growth of new industries, such as power plants and manufacturing operations, alongside traditional farms.

The project supports the collection assessment of the Coffman Photograph Collection. The requested $6,000 will partially pay for having CCAHA photograph conservator Rachel Wetzel visit IUP to assess the collection; provide a training workshop on the proper handling of prints and negatives; and prepare a report on the best practices of preserving the collection, including reformatting fragile and unstable images. The collection comprises 16,000 images of historic and cultural interest, representing the career of photojournalist Wilbur L. Coffman (1902-1982). The collection encompasses three distinct periods in his career: 1922-1942, as a news photographer in Pittsburgh; 1943-1945, as a photojournalist for the Office of War Information during World War II; and 1947-1979, as a commercial studio photographer and a part-time photographer for the "Indiana Evening Gazette" in Indiana, Pennsylvania.

Project fields:
Arts, General; Cultural History; Journalism

Preservation Assistance Grants

Preservation and Access

Total amounts:
$6,000 (approved)
$6,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
1/1/2014 – 6/30/2015