Yale Organized 170,000 Depression Era Images And Organized Them Into An Awesome Interactive Photo Map

Sep 4, 2014

Tiffany Mueller

Tiffany Mueller is a photographer and content strategist based in Hawi, Hawaii. Her work has been shared by top publications like The New York Times, Adobe, and others.

Yale Organized 170,000 Depression Era Images And Organized Them Into An Awesome Interactive Photo Map

Sep 4, 2014

Tiffany Mueller

Tiffany Mueller is a photographer and content strategist based in Hawi, Hawaii. Her work has been shared by top publications like The New York Times, Adobe, and others.

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Migrant shed worker. Northeast Florida by Dorothea Lange Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, FSA/OWI Collection, [LC-DIG-fsa-8b29696]
Migrant shed worker. Northeast Florida by Dorothea Lange Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, FSA/OWI Collection, [LC-DIG-fsa-8b29696]
When a team of professors, employees, student’s and alumni of Yale University decided to tackle the massive collection of depression era photographs created as a special project by the The Farm Security Administration—Office of War Information (FSA-OWI) between the years of 1935-1946, they knew they were embarking on a massive undertaking. The collection, which have been meticulously curated and cared for by the Library of Congress and the FSA-OWI, contained a whopping 170,000 images, all of which would needed to be sorted and re-cataloged into Photogrammar, the new interactive map/website designed by Yale.

As a means of documenting the time during The United State’s Great Depression and to instill trust in the citizens of the governments new programs designed to provide aid and relief to the poorest 1/3 of American farmers, the FSA-OWI began working with photographers all over the country to grow a collection of images. The great Dorothea Lange, Walker Evans, and Arthur Rothstein were among some of the photographers involved with the project. 

Photogrammar offers a multitude of exploration options.
Photogrammar offers a multitude of exploration options.

With so many photographs and so many ways to explore all of them, Photogrammar is fairly easy to become immersed in. A person could spend hours perusing through the catalogs (trust me, I speak from experience). The website offers a couple different map interfaces, including the one you see in the screenshot above. You can browse by county or by photographer, which was a nice feature for those of us who enjoy following the works of specific photographers.

photogrammar3
The Photogrammar Labs section is especially useful if you are searching for a spefic type of photo (i.e. one from a certain photographer or from withing a specific timeframe).

There is also a really cool Photogrammar Labs section which has some nifty sorting and searching tools. The Metadata Dashboard breaks things down by state, county, photographers, date, AND classification making it super fast to find exactly what you’re looking for. The Treemap is also a really quick way to get to the point of your search, or, if you’re like me, a quick way to spend an hour and half looking at some incredible vintage photographs.

You can check the project out for yourself by visiting the website at Photogrammar.Yale.edu.

[ via Gizmodo | Photogrammar ]

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Tiffany Mueller

Tiffany Mueller

Tiffany Mueller is a photographer and content strategist based in Hawi, Hawaii. Her work has been shared by top publications like The New York Times, Adobe, and others.

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2 responses to “Yale Organized 170,000 Depression Era Images And Organized Them Into An Awesome Interactive Photo Map”

  1. Pete Avatar
    Pete

    This is awesome, but carelessly done. They have the wrong counties for most of the Virginia photos

    1. Tiffany Mueller Avatar
      Tiffany Mueller

      Accurate observation, Pete. :)

      I noticed that about Virginia (and Hawaii counties), too. It is a tall undertaking for a relatively small staff of people to do, so I’m giving them a break on the locations. For the most part, the locations are at least close. On that note, I wonder if the locations will become more accurate the more seasoned this project gets…Maybe they will roll out a simple “Help Us Improve The Location Data” link on each of the images so the public could suggest more accurate details than what the Yale alumni currently have to work with (which is probably nothing more than the original notes from the photographers who took the images and some cryptic cataloging numbers established by the FSA-OWI some 70 years ago).