Magic Lantern Slide Digitization Project

On-going BMCEA project:

One hundred years ago, Egyptology was taught with photographic images on glass plates projected through devices known as “magic lanterns.” This historic technology was cutting edge for its time and employed as a valuable educational medium by leading academic institutions such as Bryn Mawr College. For decades, these slide collections have been neglected and forgotten. Bryn Mawr College currently holds approximately 2,000 glass magic lantern slides that were used to teach Egyptology, the earliest of which were introduced by Dr. Caroline Ransom between 1905 and 1910. As the first woman to get a PhD in Egyptology in the United States, Ransom broke new ground teaching Egyptology at this historic women’s college, and these first slides were a key part of her curriculum at Bryn Mawr. Expanded heavily in the 1920’s and 30’s, Bryn Mawr’s glass slide collection includes valuable images of sites prior to their excavations and reconstructions, as well as sites in Egypt and Nubia later flooded by the construction of the Aswan High Dam. Many of these early photographs may be the only surviving images of their kind. A critical effort is underway to bring these images back from the brink of obscurity by cataloging and digitizing the earliest slides in Bryn Mawr College’s collection. The resulting digital images and metadata will be made available to the scholarly public to aid future research.