Glass Negatives of Family Photos Become Treasure

In the Belleville News-Democrat (Southern Illinois and St. Louis), there is an article by Jay Schwab, Glass negatives of family photos become treasure, which is something I’m very interested in, as are most genealogists who are lucky enough to have the chance to rescue old family photos. It’s about a lady, Nelda Schlesinger, who has done a lot to preserve over 150 glass plate negatives.

Excerpt from the article:

According to, most 19th century photographs were made on glass plate negatives. But there are few in circulation now. Brierly said in her 30 years in the antique business, she has seen them only a couple times.

It took Schlesinger about a year to meticulously develop the images off the negatives, stopping only when the darkroom in her basement became too chilly to inhabit during the winter.

“If I got five done in an evening, I felt I was really speeding along,” said Schlesinger, who has spent the past several months organizing the photos for the library.

I’ve only seen one in my life. I would have been too nervous (and untrained) to know what to do.

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