I am now coming to the end of my internship here in the Digital Imaging Unit. Over the past twelve weeks I have been responsible for digitising a large number of documents as part of the Godfrey Thomson Project. Collecting the project documents from Neasa, the Godfrey Thomson Archives Intern, I would then be required to capture every document individually using the Bookeye 4 Scanner (a machine that I have got to know very well lately, and one that behaves rather well, all told!).
My workflow has consisted of scanning each document onto the computer, applying colour correction, cropping and sharpening to the image in Adobe Photoshop, then combining the individual files into a PDF document (representing each particular body of work), to be made accessible via the CRC’s online platforms in the near future.
The range of project materials has been vast, comprising of; books and journal articles written by Thomson; letters of correspondence between Thomson and colleagues, friends and family; test ledgers; lecture notes; diaries…the list goes on. With this in mind, some of the materials have understandably been quicker to process (per page) than others, which are more time consuming as they require added care and attention. Every box of materials would have its own quirks, and surprises, and would have to be managed carefully and accordingly.
Unfortunately, I cannot claim to have an intellectual understanding of Godfrey Thomson’s work, merely an overview – scanning the work both physically and mentally it seems! I have, however, come to appreciate Thomson’s utter dedication to his work. I was amazed to see his rigour and relentless note-making when reworking theories, and his attention to detail when carrying out research. This, for example, became particularly apparent when working through a folder entitled ‘Papers regarding Hector’s development’, from which comes the following quotation:
‘He can take milk from a cup, and holds the handle quite professionally. Of course someone has to steady the cup. He likes gravy at dinner time, a saucer full.’
Often, I would catch a glimpse of the odd line or two, like the one above, and inadvertently piece together a somewhat fragmented story of my own, as I struggled to find a suitable context for what was before me. The above represents just some of the eccentric details that allude to a larger story. In case you were wondering, Hector is Godfrey Thomson’s son. From Hector’s birth, he became a subject of Thomson’s research. Not in a clinical and lab-like fashion but in a rather practical, and charming, fashion. These papers are personal, yet informative, incredibly detailed, and provide a unique narrative regarding the relationship between father and son. Well worth a look with plenty of drawings too!
It is important to point out that I have not spent most of my time in the DIU reading materials as opposed to scanning them! Quite the opposite. Some things, however, are just too hard to pass without further investigation, no doubt explaining their place within the collection in the first instance.
Godfrey Thomson Project Intern (Digital Imaging Unit)
Click here to learn more about the Godfrey Thomson Project.