Donor Interview: Madeline Lipton

Culture in Transit’s community scanning events are designed to collect cultural heritage items on a local level: meeting our donors face to face, hearing their stories and to provide them with digital copies of their own. Here in Brooklyn we’re off to a slow start, but shortly after the project’s launch I began receiving emails from people all over the country interested in donating.

Although off-site donations were not part of the original Culture in Transit model, we decided to welcome anyone with a desire to contribute to Brooklyn’s shared history. I developed a simple intake procedure for these donations by creating a Google form to submit metadata, a digital copy of the consent form and requesting that all images be scanned as a 600 dpi TIFF.

One of our first donors was Madeline Lipton; a resident of Long Island who couldn’t attend an event but still wanted to contribute a photograph. She was kind enough to agree to a short interview about her experience as a Culture in Transit off-site donor.

Madeline's grandfather Moise Silver standing in Loran's Drug Store.

Madeline’s grandfather Moise Silver standing in Loran’s Drug Store.

How did you hear about Culture in Transit?

Several months ago, I happened upon a wonderful vintage photo of my Grandfather at his workplace. Since the photo was taken in Brooklyn I thought why not look for a place online that might be interested in seeing or displaying it digitally. I contacted the librarian at the Brooklyn library and she told me there was going to be a new project coming up later this year, to keep an eye out for its start. She mentioned that the upcoming project Culture in Transit would definitely be interested in my “rich and interesting photo” as she called it and also others like it.

Why did you choose to donate?

I chose to donate it not only because it will be nice to see my Grandfather’s photo online, but because it gives people an up close view of how times have changed. (Since it depicts items long gone from society and no longer in use.)

Can you tell me a little bit about your grandfather’s experience in Brooklyn?

My Grandfather grew up in New Orleans and moved to Brooklyn as a young married man starting a family. He always enjoyed living in Brooklyn and remained there throughout his life. (Though was a New York Giants baseball fan.) He was a modern Grandfather for the times too -always drove and enjoyed air travel too. He worked the pharmacy at Loran’s Drug morning to night, and then later on worked at Pan Am Cargo.

Many families that left New York over a generation ago still seem to maintain a strong connection to the city. Why do you think this is?

I think many families that left New York still have a strong connection to the city, not only because of vivid memories with family and friends, but because the city always remains consistently alive and exciting. The city offers a vibrant center of cultural activities. I know personally, although a suburbs girl, a day in the city always makes me feel energized.

The Culture in Transit community scanning events operate under the belief that a public library is the best place to collect and preserve local history. Do you agree? Why or why not?

The library is a great place to preserve local history. To me, it’s almost like the world at your fingertips. I have always enjoyed the library since childhood.

This project relies on technology for both the collection and display of our donations. Do you think this is the best way for sharing our cultural history?

I feel digitalizing the donations using the latest technology are a great way to preserve and collect them. Also, a great way to display to many people at once.

Can you talk a bit about viewing the photograph of your grandfather digitally as opposed to in person? Is the experience different for you? If so, how?  

When I will see the photo of my Grandfather digitally, I will enjoy it thoroughly but, yes, it is different than up close. When you can actually hold a photo in your hand it is a different type experience. Everyone has a personal preference, for instance, how one likes to read a book. May be based on what medium you are used to.