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Yale Photogrammar revitalizes and adds new context to the FSA-OWI images

Last week I was so excited to discover the Internet Archive Book Images project.  Yesterday (also via @infodocket) I discovered Photogrammar— a digital humanities project from Yale University.

Exploiting Library of Congress metadata, the Photogrammar team created a web-based platform for organizing, searching, and visualizing the 170,000 photographs from 1935 to 1945 created by the United State’s Farm Security Administration and Office of War Information (FSA-OWI).

I’ve been a huge fan of this collection since my powerful experience as an American Memory Fellow in the summer of 1998.  But I never saw or imagined accessing the collection quite like this.

An interactive county map, with a sliding year scale, plots approximately 90,000 photographs containing geographical information. It may be searched by photographer, date, and place.  An alternate version displays photographers represented by colored dots.

The Photogrammar Labs host experiments that include:

  • a Treemap Visualization of the 1942 Classification System
  • an interactive Metadata Dashboard, now in development, will show the relationship between date, county, photographer, and subject in photographs from individual states. California is currently available.
  • a ColorSpace feature will soon explore the 17,000 color photographs based on hue, saturation and lightness.

History teachers will appreciate this new way to access and think about images of life during this much-studied period of US history. Art teachers will appreciate new ways to access and analyze the iconic works of these renowned photographers.

An initiative of Yale’s Public Humanities Program and Photographic Memory Workshop, Photogrammar was funded by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

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Joyce Valenza About Joyce Valenza

Joyce is an Assistant Professor of Teaching at Rutgers University School of Information and Communication, a technology writer, speaker, blogger and learner. Follow her on Twitter: @joycevalenza

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