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Xavier University Photographic Negative Collection

Identifier: XUA-125

Scope and Contents

This collection, containing 756 photographic negatives that University Archives selected for reformatting and digitization by the Northeast Document Conservation Center in 2007, documents Xavier University campus life from the 1890s to the 1950s, with the bulk dating from the late 1930s to the late 1950s. Original negatives (nitrate and acetate), upon completion of that digitization project, were discarded due to their fragile and hazardous nature. The collection contains images of intramural sports (basketball, volleyball, handball and bowling among others), golf, boxing, baseball, special events, awards and presentations, faculty, alumnae and alumni organizations and events, student organizations such as the Masque Society (theatre), and student classroom experiences. It also includes images of the Evening Division, which served adult students, and commencement activities.


  • Creation: approximately early 1890s-late 1950s
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1930s-1950s


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research use. Materials must be viewed by appointment in the University Archives and Special Collections Research Room.

History of the Office of Marketing and Communications

The Office of Marketing and Communications offers marketing services, maintains Xavier University's brand identity, and provides training and resources to the campus community. It reports to the Vice President for Administration. In carrying out its mission, the office often creates visual documentation of campus life through photographs, video, and other media.

The Office of Marketing and Communications has its origins in the Office of Public Relations and its various iterations over time. In the 1930s-1950s, when the bulk of the images in this collection were taken, it was led by director Edward Vonder Haar. There also existed a university-level Public Relations Committee. It is likely that most of the images in this collection were created and used by this office for marketing and other purposes.


1.3 Cubic Feet (10 boxes, 5" w x 5.5" h x 8" d) : 756 black-and-white photographic prints and negatives

Language of Materials



The Xavier University Photographic Negative Collection, acquired from a variety of sources over decades including the Office of Marketing and Communications, contains a selection of 756 photographic negatives documenting campus life, student activities, faculty, and alumni events at Xavier University (Cincinnati, Ohio) from around 1889 to 1959 that were reformatted and digitized in 2007.


The collection is organized into fifteen series arranged by subject categories. The images were intellectually assigned to these major subject categories by the University Archives Librarian prior to digitization. In addition, images are individually identified by a sequential number assigned in the order in which they were found and packaged for digitization.

The series are:

  1. Baseball
  2. Boxing
  3. Intramural Sports
  4. Masque Society
  5. Students/Classroom
  6. Evening Division
  7. Awards and Presentations
  8. Commencement
  9. Alumnae Association
  10. Alumni Association
  11. Dads' Club
  12. Booklovers Association
  13. Faculty
  14. Special Events

Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

All 756 original nitrate and acetate negatives were destroyed in 2008 upon completion of the 2007 reformatting and digitization project. Researchers must view the reference set of prints, interpositive negatives, or digitized images.

Custodial History

Negatives were found in University Archives storage by UASC staff in the early 2000s. They were likely acquired from various campus offices, including the Office of Marketing and Communications (formerly the Office of Public Relations) and University Relations, over decades, but exact acquisition information is absent from UASC records. This collection is a subset of the total group of negatives found.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Found in University Archives storage, early 2000s.

Related Materials

Images depict the activities, offices, and individuals from many University Archives collections. For non-photographic materials, researchers should consult these collections, which include, but are not limited to the following: 1. XUA-38, Alumni Association records, University Archives and Special Collections, Xavier University Library, Cincinnati, Ohio. 2. XUA-89, Xavier University Division of University Relations records, University Archives and Special Collections, Xavier University Library, Cincinnati, Ohio. 3.XUA-54, Campus Buildings and Properties Collection, University Archives and Special Collections, Xavier University Library, Cincinnati, Ohio. In addition to these images, the remaining unprocessed acetate and nitrate negatives are held in University Archives.

Processing Information

In 2007, the University Archives Librarian selected 756 nitrate and acetate negatives found in UASC storage for reformatting by the Northeast Document Conservation Center (NEDCC). General subject categories were assigned at this time based on accompanying image description and image contents. Some negatives were found in envelopes as a set while others were found loose. While preparing for digitization, UASC staff recorded information on envelopes which housed the negatives as well as the size, manufacturer, type, and condition of each negative.

Once received and reviewed, NEDCC further recorded the physical condition of each negative. NEDCC reformatted the photographic negatives for preservation and access purposes, by way of making contact interpositives and subsequent duplicate negatives on stable polyester film. Several were severely deteriorated resulting in irretrievable images.

UASC staff envisioned a multi-year project to reformat the entirety of the acetate and nitrate negatives held by University Archives, but the project was never finished. These remaining negatives are unprocessed and in very poor physical condition as of 2023. Contact UASC staff for an inventory of this remaining collection.

Xavier University Photographic Negative Collection
In Progress
UASC Staff
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Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the University Archives and Special Collections, Xavier University Library Repository

3800 Victory Parkway
Cincinnati Ohio 45207 US