log in helplinksabout



Print Room




Lewis Hine: Materials and Research Analysis with Paul Messier

From George Eastman House : Notes On Photographs

Jump to: navigation, search



Variants of Lewis Hine’s ‘’Powerhouse Mechanic’’ in the George Eastman House collection have been examined using a variety of approaches as part of a larger collaborative research project to explore and refine the methods by which the caretakers of photographs articulate, document, and share meaningful information about the material characteristics of photographic prints.

These approaches to understanding and documenting the material features of the photograph include visual observation of print surface characteristics, imaging at the microscopic level, and the use of analytical technologies such as X-Ray Fluorescence Spectroscopy (XRF) and paper fiber analysis. The intent is to determine what can be observed with a trained eye in appropriate lighting conditions, and which material characteristics require higher levels of investigation. These higher levels include, for example, magnification to observe greater detail of the layer structure of a photograph and paper fiber analysis to determine elemental or paper fiber composition.

In September 2008 Paul Messier participated in a collaborative research project with the staff of Notes-on Photographs to apply a methodology developed at the Paul Messier studio for dating photographic papers. Messier is well known for his involvement in determining the authenticity of many Lewis Hine prints scrutinized during the forgery scandal that was brought to attention in 1999. The ‘’Powerhouse Mechanic’’ variants as well as additional Hine material was selected for analysis.

For further information about analysis and activities applied for this project see examination methods. For templates used to enter catalog data and build image galleries click here.

Comparative Data

Comparing paper fiber analysis with stamps

Powerhouse Mechanic print timeline

Graph courtesy Paul Messier.

Variants and Stamps

Negative #2
Negative #3
Negative #4
Stamp #1
Stamp #2

Powerhouse Mechanic and additional Lewis W. Hine Prints


Individual print data

1915-1925 1930-1945 1930-1970 1935-1955 1935-1960 1950-1970 1955-2000 1970-1995 1975-1995
1978:0999:0115 1978:1014:0266 1978:0999:0014 1978:0999:0018 1978:0999:0016 1977:0177:0001 GREEN_218 1977:0069:0008 GREEN_217
1977:0177:0082 1978:0999:0020 MFAH_2002.1301
non-accessioned_1 GREEN_219

Graphing colorimetry/Highlight spectra

The shape of the curve tells a very particular absorbance/reflectance over the visible spectrum.

Paper thickness