For a substantial portion of the Scrapbook Project, Ronnie Vest & I both spent many afternoons filing through the original source material. While I was busy transcribing the necessary metadata and tags, he was busy taking each page, handling each one with white gloves and the care of father handling his newborn babe, and scanning them carefully.
In the process of scanning, he took great pains to ensure that we had preserved the best possible image quality. This is certainly nothing new.
For many years, until as recent as fifteen years ago, when archivists and others, such as filmmakers, would try to make new reproductions of original source material there was always the risk of some quality being lost in the translation. For example, for most of cinematic history when film production companies would make duplicate copies or original source prints, after so many duplications various generations of quality would be lost, such as image definition, color hue, and audio clarity. Even when 3-D Animation was making its world debut, in the mid 1990′s, marinating all of the necessary digital elements together was quite cumbersome.
Perhaps the best example of this is manifested in the form of the work done by the James Monroe 3-D Project. Judging from the objects they have produced, obviously the tools that they have to utilize, given the limitations of what they have available to them, show that the tools that we have today, while certainly more advanced then what came before, still are not without issues, limits, and difficulties.
Overall, I would say that the quality of the images that we managed to scan offers the best possible definition we could hope for. Mrs. Parsons kept saying she wished she had a V-Scanner to make things more convenient. I don’t blame her considering that the original source material was so brittle that it in some cases it broke at the touch.