Before the Film: Glass Negatives from the Archives

The film negative is iconic. But did you know that before cellulose film took over the photographic world, there was another major medium for photography? Although not the earliest form of negatives (which was actually paper), glass negatives were the most common method of creating a photographic negative. The first glass negatives were created on handmade glass that had to be cleaned and prepared onsite (including mixing chemicals) immediately before taking the photograph. Eventually, companies like Kodak created glass negatives with a gelatin-based emulsion that were ready-to-use, with machine-made and -cut glass already prepared with the light-sensitive materials that would be exposed to create the photograph. These negatives are of the latter variety- in fact, many of them appear to have been stored in the boxes in which they were purchased, as below:

Enjoy the images from the archives, and at the end find some suggestions on how best to preserve any glass negatives you may have or find in your own family archives!

Days on the Farm

Single Shots- Getting just the right pose

A Congregation, Congregating

Buildings and Explorations

Houses Near and Far

Handling and Care of Glass Negatives

Now that you’ve seen some examples of what can be contained in glass negatives, here are some guidelines on how to protect them if you come across any in your own family’s materials.

Safe Handling

When you need to handle the negative, wear gloves, preferably nitrile or a similar material. Cotton gloves do not give a good grip on the glass, so you are more likely to drop the negative if you are wearing them. Nitrile gloves protect the glass and emulsion from fingerprints and other damage from the oil on your hands, and also provide a small amount of protection if there are any sharp spots on the edge of the glass.

Do not use any form of liquid or cleaner on the negatives. The emulsion (the thin layer of material that sits on top of the glass and contains the actual image of the photograph) is fragile and can be damaged easily. As far as possible, avoid touching the emulsion at all- if there is dust that needs to be removed, use a bulb style duster to gently blow off the dust.

When storing glass negatives, it is important to protect them from damage caused by other negatives. Separating the negatives from each other with acid-free cardboard or thick paper stock helps ensure that the glass and emulsions aren’t damaged by scraping or rubbing against each other. The negatives can be stored on their edge or flat, but if storing on edge make sure to fit them snugly or create supports so that they cannot shift or fall over. However they are stored, make sure to label the box with a warning that it contains glass so that it doesn’t get handled roughly or dropped without realizing that the contents are fragile.

Have any questions, or have any glass negatives that you would like to digitize? Contact the Sherman Room by email at or phone at 419-521-3115!


  1. Northeast Document Conservation Center. “Session 5: Care and Handling of Photographs.
  2. Canadian Conservation Institute. “Care of Black-and-White Photographic Glass Plate Negatives –
    Canadian Conservation Institute (CCI) Notes 16/2
    .” September 14, 2017.

George Manner Schrack: From Entertainer to Minister

Library Document Station

George Manner Schrack, abt. 1913

George Manner Schrack was born February 18, 1890 to James Reed and Susan Amanda (Manner) Schrack.  His obituary states that his maternal great-great grandfather came to Richland County in 1818 and settled the land which would eventually become Malabar Farm.  He attended school at an early age in Fredericktown, Ohio and later studied dramatics at Kings School of Oratory in Pittsburgh, PA, graduating in 1914.  He traveled preforming in Chautauqua groups and coaching high school dramatics.  In June of 1916 George’s mother, Susan, died unexpectedly at his parent’s home near Ankneytown, Ohio.  A little over two years later, on November 1, 1918, his father would die after being gored by a “mad bull” on the family farm.  After this George enrolled at the Moody Bible Institute in Chicago, a May 15, 1925 article from The Mansfield News states that he is home from the Moody Bible Institute visiting family.  Shortly after this in June and July of 1925 George is mentioned preaching in the Perrysville, Ohio area and in 1925 he became pastor at St John’s Lutheran Church in Perrysville.  This was to be a one-year assignment, but he remained there for over 35 years, retiring in 1961.  Also, in 1925, George was married to Clara Jones who was a former classmate of his at the moody Bible Institute.  Rev. George Manner Schrack died August 8, 1961 in Mansfield General Hospital.  His wife Clara L. (Jones) Schrack died March 2, 1982.

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The Sherman Room Digital Archive

There is a new digital archives website available from The Sherman Room at the Mansfield Richland County Public Library.  There are postcard images, photographs, school newspapers, Civil War Letters and, for the first time, digital copies of school yearbooks.  This is just the beginning.  In the future, we will be adding many more materials from our collection to the archive.  There is also a feature where you can contribute your own items to the “Digital Community Scrapbook” and share items through many social media platforms.

OSR Postcard021

Vintage Postcard Collection

Along with coin and stamp collecting, Deltiology, or postcard collecting, is one of the largest collectible hobbies in the world. Postcards are popular because of the wide range of subjects, from historical buildings, famous people, art, holidays and more. These images can be used to help trace the history of a place and show what buildings and people were important to a community at that time. This collection shows various scenes from Mansfield and Richland County, Ohio, the dates ranging primarily from 1890-1920.  There are currently almost 300 images, with more to come.


North Main Street, 1913 flood–near intersection with 5th Street. Second Hand store, (left) was located at 178 N. Main.

Photo Collection

This collection of Mansfield and Richland County images represents photographs dating back to the late nineteenth century. Included are historic views of Mansfield, including downtown and industrial areas.  This collection is small and still growing and there are more images available on our page on the Cleveland Memory Project.  These, along with many others, will be on the new site in the future.

Yearbook Collections

This collection currently contains yearbooks for Mansfield Senior High School up to the year 1961.  Thanks to the Mansfield local schools, we have been given permission to digitize up to the year 2000 and will also include digital versions of Malabar High School.  St. Peter’s High School has also agreed to allow digital versions of their yearbooks to be available.

School Newspapers

Currently St. Peter’s High School’s newspaper, The Key, from 1963-1970 is available online.  This covers the years when the school did not produce a yearbook.  Later newspapers from John Simpson, Johnny Appleseed, Malabar High School and Mansfield Senior High will be added.

Civil War Letters

This collection contains the Civil War Letters of the Cummins Brothers.  George and Abraham Cummins were no different than the hundreds of thousands of other young men who answered the call of the President to restore the Union that had been torn apart by the American Civil War. Both brothers were members of Co. I of the 15th Ohio Volunteer Infantry–a group organized by their father, William, and made up primarily of young men from the Shelby area. Happily, both men survived the war and returned to Richland County to continue their lives.

Digital Community Scrapbook

Finally, we have recently added a feature were you are able to submit your own images.   After they are approved by our administrator, the images will be available for anyone to see through the website.  Not only can images be submitted, you can also share a story or memory you have of Mansfield from the past.  Help us share the story of our community.

The site is searchable:

In order to search the yearbooks, select Advanced Search by selecting the three dots next to the search bar at the top right of the page.  Enter the name of the person you are searching in the Search for Keywords field and select Mansfield High School Annual – 1907-1923 or The Manhigan 1924-present under Search by Collection.  This will display a list of annuals that person appears in.  After you click on the desired yearbook you can search again, at the top right of the screen, to find the exact page where they are listed.  As of today on up to 1942 is searchable, but the other volumes will be added shortly.

In order to search the St. Peter’s Newspapers, select Advanced Search by selecting the three dots next to the search bar at the top right of the page.  Enter the name of the person you are searching in the Search for Keywords field and select The Key News – St. Peter’s High School under Search by Collection. This will display a list of issues that person appears in. After you click on the desired issue you can view the entire issue by clicking on the image of the front page.

I hope you enjoy this new resource.

The Sherman Room Yearbook Collection

According to NPR, the school yearbook can be traced back to George K. Warren (1832-1884).  When technology had advanced to be able to make many copies of a photo from a single negative, Warren convinced college students to buy many images and share them with their friends at school.  People would then bind these images together and make fancy albums.  These would later evolve into the yearbook we know today.

Before this and, up until the early 1900s, autograph books were popular among high school and college students.  The books would be filled with poems, drawings, and personal messages to the owner.  There are a few of these books in the archives of the Sherman Room.  One belonged to Charlotte Boyne Parker (b. 1823), the daughter of Judge Jacob Parker of Mansfield.  Charlotte’s mother was Elizabeth Sherman, the sister of Charles R. Sherman.  This made Charlotte a cousin to John Sherman.

Below are some of the images from this book.  Included is the page signed by Lampson P. Sherman, who was one of the founders of De Moines, Iowa and John Sherman’s brother.  Below the images is a list of the yearbooks available at the Sherman Room.

If you are looking for yearbooks outside of Richland County try the Ohio Genealogical Society ( in Bellville.  They have a collection of high school and university yearbooks from all across the state.

We are always looking for donations to fill in the gaps in our collection.



High Schools

Mansfield High School
1908-1974, 1977, 1979-2017

Bellville High School
1939, 1941, 1942, 1946-1949, 1963

Butler High School

Clear Fork High School
1965-1967, 1969, 1971-1974, 1976-1988, 1990-2017

Crestview High School
1973, 1978-2017

Lexington High School
1938-1942, 1944-1967, 1971-2002, 2004-2016

Lucas High School
1943, 1946, 1949-1956, 1958, 1960-1964, 1967, 1975-2017

Madison High School
1928, 1930-1932, 1937-1939, 1943-1957, 1959-1969, 1971, 1973, 1975, 1976, 1978-1988, 1990-2000, 2003-2017

Malabar High School
1964-1970, 1973, 1974, 1976, 1979-1982, 1984-1986, 1988, 1989

Mansfield Christian
1972, 1974-1979, 1982-2002, 2005-2017

Mansfield Senior High – Cline Ave. Campus

Mansfield School of Technology

Ontario High School
1965-1969, 1973-1975, 1977, 1978, 1980-1999, 2001-2016

Pioneer Career and Technology Center
1988, 1990, 1991, 2007-2017

Plymouth High School
1933, 1937-1939, 1941, 1943, 1947, 1949-1957, 1959, 1961, 1963, 1964, 1977-2000, 2005, 2007-2017

St. Peters High School
1941-1959, 1968-2000, 2002-2016

Shelby High School
1930, 1946-1964, 1966-1971, 1973-1979, 1982-2002, 2004-2017

Shiloh High School
1942, 1949, 1954

Springfield Township School (The Echo)
1932, 1935-1948, 1951-1961, 1963, 1966

Temple Christian
1978, 1982-1984, 1986, 1987, 1989-1995, 1997-1999, 2002, 2004, 2005, 2007-2017

Union High School
1941, 1944, 1953, 1956

Elementary/Middle Schools

Discovery School

Dowds Elementary
1964, 1966-1970, 1972, 1978

Eastern Elementary

John Sherman Junior High
1965, 1966, 1968, 1971-1983, 1987-1989

John Simpson Junior High
1990, 1992, 1993, 1995, 1998, 2005

Lexington Junior High
1963, 1965-1967, 1970

Malabar Middle School
1990-1995, 2004-2010

Mansfield Middle School

Ontario Junior High
1965, 1968, 1970, 1985

Woodville School


Mansfield School of Nursing
1947, 1950, 1957-1981