Christian Stereographic Archives Project

Restoring and Preserving our 3-D Christian Visual Heritage

Stereograph of Tabernacle of Billy Sunday in Johnstown, PA, November 1913.
(above): Rare 3-D stereograph of revival tabernacle of evangelist Billy Sunday in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, November 1913.

Restoration and Preservation

No traditional flat photograph can ever equal the splendor of viewing the same scene as a 3D stereo photograph. In the past, one relied on viewing these dimensional images through an antique stereoscope. Today, we can digitize, store, and retrieve these recordings, and view them on the latest ultra high-definition, auto-stereoscopic 3D screens.

Evangelists with revival tents traveled throughout the USA bringing the Gospel of Jesus Christ to towns people ... long before radio, television, or the internet.
(above): Evangelists with revival tents traveled throughout the USA bringing the Gospel of Jesus Christ to people ... long before radio, television, or the internet.

Unfortunately, many of these 3D images are approaching 150 years of age and older. Therefore, it is a race to beat the clock before their image quality deteriorates to uselessness. Some stereographs have been carefully photographed and chemically processed, and continue to stand the test of time. Many others have not been so lucky, with their images having faded nearly beyond recognition. There are 20th century film stereographs that now have their photographic dyes fading rapidly.

Here we have an antique stereo view card containing a beautiful photograph showing where Moses received the Ten Commandments on tablets of stone, written with the finger of God. Note the beautiful cross!
(above): Here we have an antique stereo view card containing a beautiful photograph showing where Moses received the Ten Commandments on "tablets of stone, written with the finger of God." Note the beautiful cross! Exodus 31:18 "And he gave unto Moses, when he had made an end of communing with him upon mount Sinai, two tables of testimony, tables of stone, written with the finger of God."

We (Frank and Debi DeFreitas) and our Wonders of the Bible collection celebrate these immensely important historical images of our Christian heritage. We have been at the forefront of restoration and 3D electronic archiving and preservation for nearly a decade. Many of these Christian stereo view cards were recorded by independent photographers, and therefore are scarce, and some are one of a kind. Once they are gone, they are gone forever. Time is of the essence.

In this photo people assemble under a tent to hear an evangelist on Martha's Vineyard (USA) in the 1800's.
(above): In this stereo photo (left eye view) people assemble under a tent to hear an evangelist on Martha's Vineyard (USA) in the 1800's. World's cannot describe how far back the tent extends when viewed in 3-D.

As Fall 2018 approaches, I (Frank) will begin archiving these historical Christian stereo views online. Many are not identified, since it was only one individual photographer taking a 3D photo with his (or her) stereo camera. Many times this resulted in a stereo view card with little to no identification information. Other stereographs were more popular and had been reproduced in quantity for the associated publishing company that offered them. Whether mass produced, or one of a kind, they all represent an era of Christianity in the United States and beyond. It has been an honor to own them, work with them, and help them take their place in our world of tomorrow.

A link will be posted here once the archival project begins (Fall 2018). Please check back.

One of the very first photographic images of women in a church setting.
(above): Hand-colored, 3D tissue stereograph circa 1860. One of the very first, if not the first, 3D stereoscopic images of women in a church setting. Also note the pin holes that allow light to pass through, illuminating the candle flames in the chandeliers. There are three layers here: (1) the original albumen stereo left-and-right eye photographs; (2) a layer of hand coloring which shows when light passes through; and (3) the pin hole layer which allows the candles to "light up" when viewed through a light transmitting stereoscope.

Shot in stereo photography by artist Domenico Mastroianni.
(above): Shot in stereo photography by artist Domenico Mastroianni.He was self-taught as a sculptor of clay dioramas. Because of limited money, he would often create his sculpture, photograph it, then tear it down in order to reuse the clay. So nothing remains today except for his more common regular 2D photographs, and his very rare 3D stereo photographs. Wonders of the Bible has his entire "Life of Christ" series in 3D stereographs.

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Wonders of the Bible: Our Prayer

Our prayer: "Thank you Lord Jesus for blessing and guiding our work. May it bring honor to Your name. May it inspire other Christians in their walk. May it reach and convict the perishing of this world, and help lead them to salvation. Amen."

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