Michel Écochard Archive - Notes from the Archives

The archive of Michel Écochard (1905-1985) is made up of a great range of material, such as drawings, photographs, plans, maps, urban planning reports, published articles and books, and also many handwritten notes, some annotated with sketches, covering a wide variety of subject matter. All of these objects and expressions, combine to represent the life, working life, and interests of this man of many talents. He was an architect, urban planner, restorer of monuments and buildings, author, pilot, photographer, draftsman, government official, and pilot, and worked in many different countries, including France, Lebanon, Syria, Morocco, Cameroon, Ivory Coast, and Senegal.


The Michel Écochard Archive - Notes from the Archives collection is intended to introduce his work to Archnet visitors and enable them to see for themselves examples of the many assorted materials represented in this archive.  I hope to expose at least a small sampling of the materials in this archive, from an archivist's perspective, through these documentary photographs I took while unpacking and discovering items in the archive.  

I like to take informal, documentary photographs of archival material as a sort of visual short-hand, and diary or log book, for describing items among the material in an archive.  Reasons for doing this?  These photographs are immediately available to share, but they also may aid in study, later.  They help with developing the finding aid, the descriptive introduction and guide to a particular archive, how it is organized, and to aid in confirming identification, and in locating material. Photographs can help one to understand better some of the items in detail, relationships among them, to confirm things I remember when I don't have access to the items themselves, to learn new things about them or see things not noticed before.  

These documentary photographs do have their limitations, and they are not as fully cataloged as formal photographs and catalog records would be in Archnet.  They also may be out of focus, usually only slightly, but still they can be of potential use in visually recording the condition of the item upon its arrival or during its unpacking, and possible later a photograph may be valuable in confirming whether or not changes have occurred in the condition of the item.  

Many items will eventually be formally digitized, via photography or scanning in a studio setting, but in the meantime these informal photographs are available to share with researchers and colleagues.  I hope that here, these photographs and the ones added in the coming weeks, will enable you to see and get an idea of what this particular archive includes, what it covers, and its richness. 

Betsy Baldwin
Collections Archivist
Aga Khan Documentation Center
MIT Libraries

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