Visitors to the Archives often remark that we have a lot of cool stuff. I agree! There are periods of time, however, when I have to deal with more mundane tasks and the ‘cool stuff’ is very much in my periphery. I was having a rather blaisé day this week selecting photographs of individuals to scan and add to our image database. The last folder in the box I was working in was a bit thick and contained a small envelope with something bulky. It was a small photographic flip book. The subject of the flip book is William B. Cogswell, a member of the class of 1852, trustee of the Institute, honorary degree recipient and inductee in the Alumni Hall of Fame.
Flip books were popular in the late 19th and early 20th century, after photography was readily available and before motion pictures were widely produced. A company called Biofix offered customers original flip books made with their pictures. Biofix was located in London, Brussels and Paris. Cogswell had his done in Brussels where he had business dealings. It was likely produced in the early 1900’s. Cogswell died in 1921.
I didn’t ‘discover’ or ‘unearth’ this flip book. It wasn’t hidden or buried. It was located in the appropriate place — the William B. Cogswell photograph file. It’s just an extra treat to come across an odd object like this and see William in this genre. He comes to life, so to speak. Very cool stuff. That’s why I love being Amy the Archivist!