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University of Iowa News Release


April 30, 2007

UI Libraries Brings Historic Dental College Photos To Life

With its first class in 1883, the College of Dentistry at the University of Iowa began a tradition of mounting individual portraits of graduates on photo boards. Over time, these boards made their home in the basement of the college's modern building, where they were silently deteriorating until last year.

Today, these images -- part of university's heritage -- have been preserved in the UI Libraries' Dentistry College Class Photos Collection, on the Web at

The collection project began when College of Dentistry librarian Chris White re-discovered the photos and contacted the UI Libraries head of preservation, Nancy E. Kraft, who assigned the photograph collection as a class preservation planning project to students Mary Francis, Stephanie Kruckeberg and Jill McCleary. With proposal in hand, Kraft enlisted the expertise of her staff and the Digital Library Services. After several consultations, it became clear that saving these photos was an important project for both the College of Dentistry and the UI Libraries, especially as the college celebrated its 125th anniversary.

"This collection is a visual representation of the rich history of the College of Dentistry, and shows a diversity of students extending to the early part of last century," says David Johnsen, Dean of the College of Dentistry. "The college faculty, staff, students and alumni are excited that these photographs will be available so that anyone online can view and appreciate this valuable collection."

With literally thousands of photographs dating from the 1880s to 1960s, the process of making these photos accessible online to the public is a long-term commitment. After the boards were digitally photographed by the UI Creative Media Group, UI Libraries assistant conservator Kristin Baum and a team of technicians began work to restore the photos themselves. At the same time digital initiatives librarian Mark L. Anderson was building the digital collection. In addition to the entire class photo boards, individual student and faculty photographs are viewable and fully searchable based on class lists, which adds to the ease of navigation and retrieval.

"I've already had people tell me that they found family members who graduated from the college by using this digital collection," says Anderson. "Many Iowans have connections to the College of Dentistry, and this resource makes it easier for them to find those graduates."

The Dentistry College Class Photos Collection is the latest in a series of projects coordinated by Digital Library Services for inclusion in the UI Libraries' Iowa Digital Library Web site, as well as the statewide Iowa Heritage Digital Collections consortium.

To view more digital collections created from the UI Libraries' archives, visit the Iowa Digital Library web site at

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

CONTACTS: Media: George McCrory, 319-384-0012,; Program: Kristi Bontrager, Public Relations Coordinator; University of Iowa Libraries, 319-335-5960 Writer: Kristi Bontrager