Eric Honneffer and Archival Work

by

Jeffrey Harris

The next step was to set up an interview with Eric Honneffer, the theater’s preservationist since 1996. Mr. Honneffer is a graduate of BGSU with a Masters of Arts degree in History and Archival Administration. Even though he did not take a Film Studies road in education, he is highly qualified to work in archiving as he explains, “I learned document conservations though working at the CAC (Center for Archival Collections) Conservation Lab, participating in workshops and internships and continuously reading about many aspects of conservations methods.”

Mr. Honneffer actually performs a double duty for BGSU. As first mentioned by Mr. Holden, he works for the Gish Film Theater. Eric Honneffer said, “I handle the proper display of the documents and artifacts from the Gish Film Theater Collections. The exhibits are usually done twice a year to coincide with the Sunday matinees done in both March and October commemorating Dorothy and Lillian’s birthdays.” Mr. Honneffer then has his usual duties working at the CAC (located in Perrysburg). “My job description as document conservator at the Center for Archival Collections includes offering assistance to those departments within University Libraries wishing to display original documents or artifacts from their collections” Mr. Honneffer concludes.

One thing I have learned from Mr. Honneffer is that his job is much more hands on than expected. It is true that he does a great amount of logging and label making for the exhibitions in the Gish Film Theater, but he also does a lot of impressive laboratory work. He explains, “I complete document conservation treatments on paper collections housed within the University Libraries. Such treatments include cleaning, deacidification (neutralizing acid in paper which causes it to deteriorate), mending, and encapsulation (archival alternative to lamination) … I take into consideration proper preservation methods that would best protect items from damage by light, environmental conditions and contact with display / housing equipment while they are on exhibition.”

Working in archival studies seems like a good way to work with film as well as other film related projects. For example, while I was visiting Mr. Honneffer at the CAC, one of his projects that he was in the middle of working on was keeping the rust off of the metal plate that adorns Lillian Gish’s American Film Institute’s Life Achievement Award, awarded in 1984. Mr. Honneffer concluded by saying, “I love history. I like creating, designing, and working with my hands. Document conservation and preservation activities are the perfect synthesis of all of these.”

For more information about the Center of Archival Collections you can visit their website at www.bgsu.edu/colleges/library/cac/ms0269.html or call them at 419-372-2411, or visit their on-campus site which is located on the fifth floor of the Jerome Library.

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