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I Was In A Nitrate Vault This Week

I’m not liable to spontaneous combustion, but as a human being I am flammable so it was probably for my own good.

As an archivist, you get to do some pretty cool things and go to some pretty cool places in the name of preserving history, and Monday was no different – I was in an old film processing building attending the orientation for my newest adventure in my perpetual Quest For Permanent Archival Employment, some paid training at IndieCollect, an independent film repository (check them out!). As it were, the building still has five nitrate vaults in it, so naturally I had to investigate the nearest one since I’d never gotten to go inside one before.

Photos after the cut.

Blast doors.

Blast doors.

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A light so you can find the light switch in the dark without lighting a match for Very Obvious Reasons.

A light so you can find the light switch in the dark without lighting a match for Very Obvious Reasons.

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Some film canisters just sitting there.

Some film canisters just sitting there.

The blast doors from inside.

The blast doors from inside.

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They weren't taking any chances.

They weren’t taking any chances.

If the nitrate did explode, the fire would burn through this rope, automatically closing the blast doors and protecting the rest of the building.

If the nitrate did explode, the fire would burn through this rope, automatically closing the blast doors and protecting the rest of the building.

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Oh, and you know how I know I’m meant to be taking this job? They have the original negative of the 1987 documentary about the Laurel and Hardy fanclub, Revenge of the Sons of the Desert.

This was the first thing I photographed that day. It gave me away as a comedy nerd even though I had introduced myself as one already.

This was the first thing I photographed that day. It gave me away as a comedy nerd even though I had introduced myself as one already.

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