Creating The Pauling Catalogue: More than One-Thousand Illustrations

In 1931 Linus Pauling was the first recipient of the American Chemical Society's A.C. Langmuir Award, an annual recognition of the best young chemists in the U.S. This cartoon was published in the Double Bond, Jr., a satirical newspaper produced in conjunction with the A.C.S. meeting that year.

[Part 5 of 9] The Pauling Catalogue contains over 1,200 illustrations in its 1,700+ pages of text. The long process underlying the selection of these images was based upon two fundamental guiding principles.

First, it was the goal of the editorial team that The Pauling Catalogue be used to display certain of the more important documents and artifacts held within the Pauling Papers.  Accordingly, annotated reproductions of such noteworthy items as Rosalind Franklin’s famous “Photo 51,” Watson and Crick’s original DNA structure typescript, and Pauling’s legendary “peace placard” are all included.

Of near equal importance was the desire to use image descriptions to tell some of the fascinating but less well-known stories imbued within the Pauling biography.  Part of the archivist’s mission is to provide context for the documents held within their collections.  The editorial team sought to achieve this end by composing extensive captions for a number of illustrations that, on the surface, would not seem to be altogether very interesting.

Two fascinating examples are included below. From the Pauling publications bibliography in Volume I: From the Pauling Honors and Awards listings in Volume III:

In certain other instances, custom illustrations were created by the project team for exclusive inclusion in The Pauling Catalogue.  This composite view of many of Pauling’s medals, plaques and certificates is a perfect example:

18 awards composite

The source images for this illustration are freely available on the web at the Linus Pauling: Awards, Honors and Medals website. The composite image was created using an Excel spreadsheet and a custom PerlScript, which randomized the images. Once randomized, the images were then imported into an InDesign grid with this final composite graphic as the output. Image courtesy of Eric Arnold.

Finally, image series were included throughout the publication to great effect.  The following example is particularly interesting in its depiction of the wide-variety of content included in the Ava Helen and Linus Pauling Papers:

An example of the remarkable diversity of content- and format-types in the Pauling collection.

An example of the remarkable diversity of content- and format-types in the Pauling collection.

Illustrations were selected, scanned and organized using Excel spreadsheets. Each spreadsheet contained information on a selected item’s catalogue identification number, its location as an illustration within the published catalogue and the caption text written for the image.

An example of the Excel spreadsheets used to establish intellectual control over the 1,200+ illustrations used in The Pauling Catalogue.

An example of the Excel spreadsheets used to establish intellectual control over the 1,200+ illustrations used in The Pauling Catalogue.

Documents were scanned with a goal of achieving a minimum print resolution of 300 dots per inch, meaning that certain very small artifacts (slides, for example) required very high scan resolutions – upwards of 2400 dots per inch. As a result, the final tally of 1,200+ image scans required a sizeable amount of storage space – more than 36 gigabytes in total.

A peek at the file directory structure for a portion of the images scanned and used in The Pauling Catalogue

A peek at the file-directory structure for a portion of the images scanned and used in The Pauling Catalogue

The Pauling Catalogue

The Pauling Catalogue

Close to 350 hours were logged discerning and negotiating copyright permissions for items not controlled by the OSU Libraries. This process was made all the more difficult by the fact that many of the items in the Pauling photo collection are classified as “orphan works,” e.g. images for which little or nothing is known concerning copyright provenance.  The project team’s rule of thumb was to conduct due diligence in pursuing contact information for any illustration, no matter how old.

In other instances, archival context was added to image scans to enhance a given illustration’s fair-use characteristics.

Lastly, a small number of illustrations were purchased for one-time print use. (Which means, unfortunately, that we can’t show them off here!)

The Pauling Catalogue is available for purchase at http://paulingcatalogue.org

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