A few days ago, we launched the Montgomery County Historic Lantern Slides collection on Dayton Remembers, the digital image content site for the Dayton Metro Library. A little over half (about 70) of the collection’s current 126 images depict the 1913 Flood. Of those remaining, many depict National Cash Register (NCR) Company, as well as other Dayton industries, including Davis Sewing Machine and Delco Light.
Although the digital versions of these images might not look much different from many of the other pictures on the site, including postcards and photographs, lantern slides are a unique and interesting format. Glass lantern slides, sometimes called “magic lantern” slides, were to the late 19th- and early 20th-century what those little film slides were to later generations or what PowerPoint is to us today: a way to share pictures with a group, usually during some kind of presentation or lecture.
As the name implies, they were made of glass, with the image printed as a positive (which distinguishes them from glass-plate negatives). As far as size, the particular slides in this collection are about 3.00 by 2.75 inches. For viewing, the slides were placed in a lantern slide projector of some type, which shined a light through the glass and displayed the image on a wall or screen, so the audience could see it.
And if you are interested in more lantern slides depicting Montgomery County history, you might also want to check out our Miamisburg Lantern Slides collection, which was added last year in conjunction with the centennial celebration of the Miamisburg library. The Miamisburg slides mostly depict important industries in Miamisburg around the turn of the century, especially the carriage-making and tobacco industries. (As an aside: when I received the Miamisburg slides for digitizing, they were still housed in their original wooden slide box! Now, that’s history!)