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Wrong Nicolette Bromberg?

Nicolette A. Bromberg

Visual Materials Curator

University of Washington

HQ Phone: (206) 685-0506

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University of Washington

Health Sciences Building, Room E-421 1959 NE Pacific Street

Seattle, Washington 98195

United States

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Background Information

Employment History

Society of American Archivists

Washington State University

A-Y-P Rephotographic Project

Curator of Visual Materials

University of Washington


Association of Moving Image Archivists

Washington Film Preservation Project



Web References (59 Total References)

Course and Workshop Faculty | Society of American Archivists [cached]

Nicolette Bromberg

Nicolette Bromberg, Visual ... [cached]

Nicolette Bromberg, Visual Materials Curator, Special Collections University of Washington Libraries will present a program on Viretta Chambers Denny, a descendant of the pioneer Thurston County Chambers Family who was an early woman photographer.

Nicolette Bromberg is ... [cached]

Nicolette Bromberg is currently the Visual Materials Curator for the University of Washington Libraries Special Collections. Previously she was the Visual Materials Curator at the Wisconsin Historical Society and before that she was the Photo-Archivist for the University of Kansas Library, Kansas Collection. She has taught courses on management of photograph and film collections, visual literacy, and on Understanding Photographs as Historic Documents. She has written numerous successful private, local, state and federal grants.​

Nicolette Bromberg | Society of American Archivists [cached]

Home > Education & Events > Continuing Education Faculty > Nicolette Bromberg

Nicolette Bromberg
Nicolette Bromberg has worked with photograph collections for over 25 years.
She is currently the Visual Materials Curator for the University of Washington Libraries Special Collections. Prior to that she was the Visual Materials Curator at the Wisconsin Historical Society and before that the Photo-Archivist for the Kansas Collection at the University of Kansas.
She has taught courses on management of photograph collections and on "Understanding Photographs as Historic Documents.

One person who knows Ogawa's photographs ... [cached]

One person who knows Ogawa's photographs well is Nicolette Bromberg, the visual materials curator at the University of Washington Libraries Special Collections. Bromberg has worked as a photographic historian and archivist for nearly thirty years. Before she was hired at the University of Washington in 2000, she was the visual materials curator at the Wisconsin Historical Society, as well as the photo archivist for the Kansas Collection at the University of Kansas. She has co-authored two books on Pacific Northwest history, including one about a group of Japanese immigrant photographers who founded a camera club during the 1920s and went on to earn national attention for documenting the natural beauty of the Pacific Northwest.

One afternoon, I meet Bromberg in the main research room at the University of Washington Libraries Special Collections. Bromberg appears every bit the archetypal historian and curator-a small woman in her sixties with curly grayish-brown hair and reading glasses-and has an almost giddy enthusiasm for helping visitors navigate the library's vast collection.
Bromberg has been fond of Ogawa ever since a colleague pointed her toward his work shortly after she first arrived at the University of Washington. She pulls up the photographs that have been digitized so far, and starts clicking through a collection of Ogawa's tavern photographs that have been uploaded to the UW Libraries Special Collection Web site.
"When he's in the bars, he's in there," Bromberg says in low tones, so as not to disturb other library visitors.
Bromberg smiles as she thinks about Elmer tucking into a local tavern, setting his bulky camera on the bar, and ordering a cold pint of Rainier Beer.
"Look at his photos," Bromberg excitedly exhales, as she continues to click through the images. "They are participating.
Bromberg pauses a moment before she clicks through more pictures. She lands on a series of self-portraits.
Bromberg continues to sift through Ogawa's work, landing on more self-portraits.
Bromberg has studied photographs for decades, and written books and articles about some of the most prominent photographers in the United States. But I had a sense that there was something about Ogawa's lack of artistic pedigree and abundance of DIY spirit that she appreciated in his work.
During my visit with Bromberg, I asked if any progress had been made to save his photographs. The only way she knows how to answer that question is to take me on a tour. Bromberg leads me away from the main research room and down a short and dimly lit hallway, where she swipes a key card and pushes open a heavy door to reveal a behind-the-scenes look at Special Collections-a room that appears to stretch out endlessly with islands of low desks piled high with archived boxes, binders, and computer terminals.
"There's probably more by now because they are going fast," Bromberg tells me as she begins to open boxes and hold negatives up to a bank of overhead lights to check their images. "Here's one of him in a bar, of course, holding a puppy," she says, peering into the translucent film. The damaged negatives are bubbled and curled, and Bromberg encourages me to smell some of them for that sour, potent signature whiff of vinegar that gives this type of deterioration its namesake "vinegar syndrome. The damage vinegar syndrome afflicts on film-cracking brittleness, buckling, shrinking, and bubbling-can't be undone, and leaves negatives looking like blistered scales.
Beyond the physical damage, there is a fair amount of organizational chaos. You might find a cache of Ogawa's negatives clearly labeled and in chronological order until, suddenly, they're not. "We have a lot of work to do," Bromberg explains. "We would need to go through the negatives and identify them. That's one reason Ogawa's work has been overlooked and ignored by Seattle historians-it's never really been accessible. "I've been working here twelve years and the problem with Elmer's photo collection was that you couldn't get to it because it had never been worked on," Bromberg adds.
Bromberg landed another grant for $20,000 to work on the photo collections of Ogawa and two other photographers.
"We will not put up all the photos because there are about twelve thousand and some are similar views of the same thing or completely unidentifiable," Bromberg explains. "Someday, we will get a finding aid done for the collection. The finding aid will describe all of the images in the collection, and have hyperlinks to all the photographs that are digitized. That is, if we get a grant or some funding to help get it done."
At the end of our meeting, Bromberg pauses to reflect on Ogawa.

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