The Wildlife Conservation Society Archives has received a grant from the New York State Program for the Conservation and Preservation of Library Research Materials to rehouse photographic negatives dating back to the founding of the Bronx Zoo and the New York Aquarium.
The $16,674 grant will enable WCS to rehouse glass plate and film negatives that would otherwise be susceptible to damage and deterioration. The images, dating from the Bronx Zoo’s founding in 1899 through approximately 1930, will be cleaned and properly rehoused for long-term preservation. Although the entire collection requires rehousing, this project focuses on the first 12,000 negatives in the collection of more than 70,000.
“This is an important foundational step in the preservation of the historically significant collection,” said Dr. Madeleine Thompson, WCS Institutional Archivist and Digital Resources manager. “Building off this project, we hope to rehouse the entire photo collection in the years to come and eventually digitize the negatives to make the collection more accessible as a historic and educational resource.”
The images show exceptional historic views of the Bronx Zoo and the New York Aquarium including the first animals housed there, early exhibits, staff, visitors, and some international locations where WCS, then named the New York Zoological Society, undertook fieldwork. The subjects depicted in these photos demonstrate the significant physical and cultural changes that have occurred though WCS’s history. In addition, the images show how animal care practices and exhibit standards, along with the zoo grounds, have evolved with time.