Some of the rarest things in the archives are pictures that were taken inside labs and classrooms. I suppose that makes sense—people were working in there, not goofing around with cameras. Until Carl Knapp’s scrapbooks turned up last week we had zero known images of Rice’s first Electrical Engineering Lab, which was inside the Mech Lab. Now we’ve got at least two and there may be more that I haven’t gotten to yet. (Uncharacteristically, I’ve been very disciplined so far about dealing with one picture at a time instead of trying to gulp it all in at once. We’ll see how long this lasts.) Anyway, here’s the first photo. Incidentally, we have in the Woodson a pretty decent collection of very early lab instruments like the ones on the table. It’s not inconceivable that one of them is down in our work space.
And here’s one with some pretty tricky darkroom work. Those ghostly images are all Carl Knapp himself.
I kept zooming in to see if I could find Michael Dye lurking around in there somewhere, but I guess he wasn’t hired quite yet.
The second one is almost certainly a multiple exposure in the camera rather than darkroom work. First, there are no double images of the room and getting registration exact in the darkroom is very hard. Second, the white shirt is showing over the black equipment. Working with negatives in the darkroom, the dark parts of the photo have more light and “win” in the image. Knapp probably knew how this worked, because his clothes are light-colored.
The Wheatstone bridges in the first image were still in use in my Physics 100 class in 1965 – we joked at the time they were original equipment – little did we know.