Third Generations Moves Full Steam Ahead
This post is part of the blog series StoryKeep Spotlights, where we highlight incredible companies doing good work in associated fields.
On a misty March morning, I boarded a north-bound train. The ice had finally melted. A few buds were greening the trees. Finally – StoryKeep’s first spring field trip!
By 10AM, I was clear out of Manhattan. My train was chugging along nicely as I leisurely looked over the Hudson River. Four weeks prior, during a phone conversation with archivist Janine St. Germain, I learned of Hudson Archival, an esteemed preservation and archiving firm. Janine sang their praises, “They’re the best, simply the best.” If Janine was impressed by a shop’s abilities, I had to see the operation with my own eyes.
Toya Dubin greeted me at the train station. Her piercing brown eyes and smartly pinned french twist told me immediately that she was the boss. The drive from Rhinecliff to Port Ewen was about twenty minutes, and as her vehicle hugged the winding roads, I listened in awe as she laid out the bullet points of her family’s business legacy.
“My grandfather, Oscar Fisher, founded the Oscar Fisher Company in the 1940’s. He made development equipment for the microfilm industry. My father, Stephen Fisher, began working with his father in the 1950’s, and eventually founded his own microfilming company in the 1970’s. In 2002, I joined Hudson to become the third generation and brought a digital sensibility to our work for museums, archives, and libraries. A family legacy of attention to detail, responsiveness to our clients, and insistence on quality are what you will encounter in working with Hudson Archival.”
She said it just like that, in fluid lines, full-steam ahead.
We turned into the driveway and approached their 25,000 square foot office facility. I must admit, situated on a dramatic ridge, it looked a bit like a large ski lodge from the 1970s. As I entered the building, I was greeted by a retro peg board displaying StoryKeep, my full name and the day’s date (see photo above). My first thought? “They spelled my last name correctly.” I quickly learned that such a detail was merely Hudson Archival speaking in its mother tongue.
“We run first and second quality control checks on every single image in an effort to prevent errors whenever possible,” Toya said as she ushered me into their quiet, low-lights facility. In the center of a their main work floor, and elevated on wooden palates, stood hundreds of boxes. Photographs, newsletters, maps, blueprints, etchings, and a thousand other elements of our visual human history were waiting to be preserved, digitized and cataloged according to exacting standards.
As we walked around, I ducked into several work spaces, each one divided by heavy velvet curtains. In one, a middle-aged man carefully transferred a 3′ x 12′ architectural drawing onto an extremely large pneumatic table. He pressed a foot pedal and a clean glass top pressed down evenly on the old drawing. Then, with the click of a mouse, he captured a high-res image of the masterpiece. In another space, a young woman wearing funky framed glasses worked diligently through one of the largest book archiving projects in known history. She turned each page of the foreign-language book with care, capturing a literary history that might otherwise be lost due to weather or conflict.
The day was broken up by a catered lunch on the second floor. I passed out a few StoryKeep catalogs so the staff joining us for lunch could get a sense for how our two companies might work together on family history projects. At least one of the staff had worked with Toya’s father, Stephen, and made the transition from second generation leadership to third.
Satiated, I finished up my field trip with the Director of Digital Services, Michael Macauley. Once a student of museum studies and art history, Michael now supervises 12 staff and, among other things, helps large clients set up their own bespoke websites that digitally catalog and make accessible their massive collections.
At the close of the day, Toya asked Jerry O’Toole, her very capable Operations Manager, to drive me to the Rhinecliff train station. When we arrived, I told Jerry that it was very nice meeting him (he shared a number of excellent free audible book sources with me during our drive). He got out of the car and told me that Toya insisted he walk me down to the correct platform. “All the way,” he said, “Toya said, ‘All the way.’ ” I looked at his face and saw that he was genuinely smiling. This was a man who well represented his legacy-based employer. All the way is exactly how it seems Hudson Archival does it.
StoryKeep seeks Hudson Archival in our efforts to expertly digitize family media collections.