A few years ago, Sheila Gallagher began taking a closer look at a box of old drawings that had been sitting in a closet in her parents’ home. The drawings belonged to her great-grandfather, Joseph Becker, and his fellow artist-reporters who worked at Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Weekly observing, drawing, and sending back for publication images of the Civil War, the construction of the railroads, the Irish immigration, the Chinese in the West, the Indian wars, the Chicago fire, and numerous other aspects of nineteenth-century American culture.
In total, the Becker Archive contains approximately 650 hitherto unexhibited and undocumented drawings which offer rich insight into history and culture of the 19th-Century America.
Together with fellow colleague, Judy Bookbinder, Sheila has been working to archive the collection and to begin making it available to scholars, students, and others. They decided that the most effective way to achieve this was to preserve a digital archive of the collection in the Boston College library and then create a web-based interface which would allow the public to access the drawings.
Working closely the Boston College library, IDeS staff developed a website that pulls digital images and metadata from a library database and displays them in an attractive and user-friendly website interface. The site will provide a public face to the collection as portions of the collection begin touring the country in a series of exhibition. In the near future, the site will publish material created by scholars and students who have used the archive, and IDeS will also develop a parallel version of the site for an undergraduate course based on the collection so that students can begin to interact with the content.
Content Direction and Development
- Judy Bookbinder Dept. of Fine Arts (A&S)
- Sheila Gallagher Dept. of Fine Arts (A&S)
- Tim Lindgren Instructional Designer IDeS
- Jamie Walker Instructional Web Producer IDeS
Graphic Design and Consultation
- Bill Porter Instructional Designer IDeS