Processing Continues on the Joseph Elicson Photograph Collection
For the past several months, Glen Skaggs has been spending his Tuesday mornings volunteering at the Daughters of the Republic of Texas Library, working to identify people, places and buildings, organizations, businesses, and events in the Joseph Elicson Photograph Collection. This is no easy task considering that the collection contains approximately 200 prints and, while some images are easily identifiable, the majority of the photographs are not labeled with names or dates.
The photographs contained in the collection were taken between 1940 and the early 1980s by the late Joe Elicson, a commercial photographer in San Antonio. The images document the twentieth-century history of the city. In addition to running his business, Mr. Elicson also served as the principal photographer for the DRT Library, creating professional copies of library materials for patrons.
The Elicson collection – which includes approximately 8,000 photographic negatives in addition to the prints being examined by Mr. Skaggs – came to the library in two parts. The first group, which contained mostly prints, was given by Mr. Elicson before he retired. In 1998, the library received a second group of materials comprised primarily of negatives. The new owners of Mr. Elicson’s Blanco property found the images in a barn on the grounds and donated them to the Institute of Texan Cultures (ITC). Knowing that the DRT Library already possessed many of Mr. Elicson’s images, ITC archivists transferred the negatives to the library in order to keep the collection together at one repository.
Mr. Skaggs is one of several volunteers who have worked on processing the Elicson collection. Santiago Escobedo initially arranged the prints into a hierarchy of general subjects and subtopics. Amy Canon worked on cleaning the negatives; placing them in acid-free, archival envelopes; categorizing them; listing them in a computerized inventory; and trying to match images with names or places. Dr. Jill Anderson focused on images of Boysville taken during the 1950s and 1960s and worked to identify the people and events shown. Most recently, Sarah Tomka also worked on housing and identifying negatives in the collection.
Mr. Skaggs brings a great deal of expertise and knowledge to his work with the Elicson collection. Even though he was born and raised in Kentucky, he considers himself a Texan because he has resided in San Antonio for more than fifty years. Four years ago he retired from being an independent personal property appraiser, a career he enjoyed for more than twenty years. Mr. Skaggs was a member of the International Society of Appraisers, and he worked primarily with antiques, collectibles, and household contents. During the same period, Mr. Skaggs was also a museum volunteer, first for the San Antonio Museum Association and then, upon its desolution, at its two constituent organizations, the Witte Museum and the San Antonio Museum of Art. As a volunteer at these museums, Mr. Skaggs worked as a docent and completed projects (such as writing condition reports) in the collections department.
Please contact or visit the library to learn more about the Elicson photograph collection or to access the photoprint subject guide.