work blog about search

Accidental graphics

I was recently searching online for some old sign painting books, a few of which I found on the fantastic (I’m still trying to track down the source of the angled lettering that I wrote about on here back in 2018). While on, one of the results that rather randomly cropped up was a New York City Marriage Index from 1909 – from Brooklyn specifically. The index had been documented on microfilm in 1991 for the City of New York by MICOR – the Micrographics Corporation. And then it had been digitised by FamilySearch on behalf of the brilliant Reclaim the Records. Here’s the background to that:

“This data set was originally collected by the New York City Clerk’s Office, and later transferred to the New York City Municipal Archives. For several decades, this data was only available in microfilm format and was only available to researchers who were physically onsite at the Municipal Archives building in lower Manhattan. In January 2015, the not-for-profit activist group Reclaim The Records filed a request under the New York State Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) to obtain a copy of the records. The NYC Municipal Archives refused to turn over the files, leading to a lawsuit in the Supreme Court of New York in September 2015. The suit was quickly settled in favor of Reclaim The Records, and a brand new copy of the 48 microfilms in this set was sent to them in October 2015. In April 2016, Reclaim The Records began uploading the newly digitized versions of the microfilms to the Internet Archive, for public use. This is the first time they have ever been available to the general public outside of New York City.”

Great stuff!

But the reason I’m posting here, is the beauty of the microfilm graphics. The black and white cut-out sheets assembled for the microfilming are fantastic, as is the mix of typefaces, and the lo-res feel of the microfilmed pages. Like a ready-made credit sequence. (Click on the images below to open large versions.)

Just glorious.

Looking at these put me in mind of the similarly brilliant folders that I came across while doing research at the National Archives for my book London Street Signs. Printed, typed, stamped and hand-rendered lettering combining with the buff folders and assorted stickers to create their own layered beauty.

posted: 8 May 2024
categories: Ephemera
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