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Moore History

Franklin T. MooreThe Moore Heritage: History

It is without a doubt that these photographs represent an important historical archive for Lebanon and the American University of Beirut (AUB). A part of this collection (the AUB images) was exhibited in December of 2002. However, the ultimate aim of this endeavor was to preserve and archive this valuable collection of glass plates, taken by Dr. Moore between 1892 and 1902, for future generations to appreciate. This task involved some difficult decisions, enormous effort and over a year to complete. Over a hundred images consumed in excess of 30 man/hours each to restore (all scanned at the highest workable resolution). Some plates were broken, others put together with adhesive tape and a few covered up with masking opaque paint and had to be cleaned and re-constructed, as faithfully as possible, where detail was lost. Some could not be restored to the high standards we set for this project and were left as is. Now, over a hundred years after these photographs were produced, fifty years after the glass plates were discovered and more than thirty years after their value was recognized, the images are digitized and stored on CD-ROM both as originals and as restored images and are part of the AUB archives. It was a labor of love on the part of all those involved whose efforts and dedication were indispensable in realizing this project: Dr. Marwan E. El-Sabban and Dr. Raif Nassif from the Medical School, Mr. Arno Jihanian, a professional photographer and from the Photography Department at AUB (now the Creative Media Unit), Mr. Antoine Sarrou, Mr. Mazen Jannoun and Mr. Hasan Nisr. In addition, the efforts of Mr. Cesar Nammour of the Art Center, Ms. Asma Fathallah of AUB Library Archives and Special Collections and Mr. Ibrahim Khoury of Office of Information and Public Relations (now Office of Communications) were central.

Dr. Franklin T. Moore, an American graduate of Princeton University who came to Lebanon in 1891 at the age of 23 to teach at the Syrian Protestant College (now AUB), was fraught with the obligations that his position dictated. His duties as a clinician and his involvement in a multitude of projects and committees which included, upon his return from his medical studies at Jefferson College of Medicine in Philadelphia in 1897, professorship of Physiology and Diseases of Women, Hygiene, and Legal Medicine, secretary of both the General faculty and the Medical faculty, and was a member of the Beirut Executive Committee of the Lebanon Hospital for Mental Diseases, must have kept him very busy.

Dr. Moore probably owned a decent camera with good lenses. However, how do the images measure up against other photographers of the era from composition, technical and artistic perspective? We can now pontificate how some of the images could have been composed differently or how some were blurry or double exposed due to camera movement. However, the overall quality of the images reflects meticulous attention to detail and technical know-how. What was the impetus that compelled him to undertake such a task? It is not clear whether Dr. Moore intended to produce images of aesthetic value or he simply wanted to document his environment both at AUB and in the region. It is apparent that he recorded progress in the building process of the university over time as judged by images of Post Hall, Pharmacy building, Main Gate and Marquand House. Why did he stop? The images in the collection date up until 1902 only. Why did he not engage in more photography up until his death in 1915? Maybe his failing health prohibited him from lugging around the relatively heavy photography equipment of the era or maybe he did indeed take more photographs, however, members of his family may have kept the plates and images. I believe that every effort should be made to collect and preserve whatever “The Moores” and their descendants may still have in store from the AUB days. No matter what circumstance contributed to the production of these images, Dr. Moore has certainly left us a treasure, and now thanks to modern technology, that will stay with us for a long time.

Dr. Marwan E. El-Sabban
Director of the Creative Media Unit

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