Fishing Lessons (not really)

In addition to my many other jobs, I also teach preservation classes for the Des Moines Public Schools Community Education Program. I’ve been teaching a photo preservation class called “Saving Your Family Photos” for about a year and a half now, and will debut a paper and book preservation class this spring. (I believe registration starts in a couple weeks – check the DMPS Community Education website above for details)

A box of archived photographs at the
Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago

I’ll be honest – I love teaching these classes. We usually have between eight and twelve people per course, and the photo class meets for three weeks (the book and paper class will meet for two.) We discuss the history of photography, learn how to identify historic photographs, learn how to display and store them, and try to figure out the best way for each of my student to tackle their collection without feeling overwhelmed.

We also discuss digital options, including born-digital images and options for scanning preexisting photos.

I’m always amazed by age and variety of historic photos my students have in their collections; my family photos barely go back to 1900 and all of the images I use as class examples were purchased at antique stores.

Storage box in the Des Moines University Archives

This is what real historic preservation is about–sitting down with regular folks and teaching them how to best care for their collection

You know, teaching them how to fish and what not.

“Give a man a fish; you have fed him for today.  Teach a man to fish; and you have fed him for a lifetime”—Author unknown

Well, I like to teach a man (woman, child) to preserve and interpret their material culture–their family heirlooms. That’s what I do.

If you’d like to know more my classes or workshops, or if you have questions about how to preserve your own items, please contact me – I’d be happy to speak with you! (write me at or

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