RRCHNM to build software to help researchers organize digital photographs

We are pleased to announce funding for a new project to develop a freely licensed and open-source software tool, called Tropy, which will allow archival researchers to collect and organize the digital photographs that they take in their research, associate metadata with those images, and export both photographs and metadata to other platforms. Generously funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Tropy will be led by Stephen Robertson and Sean Takats over the next two years.

The affordability of powerful digital cameras and the increasing willingness of libraries and archives to allow their use have produced a widespread need for this software. The difficulties of organizing and managing large collections of digital images familiar to us from our own experiences as researchers are well-documented in surveys of humanities research practices, blog posts and comments, and appeals on Twitter. In addressing this need, Tropy represents an extension of RRCHNM’s work building an infrastructure for digital scholarship, joining Zotero, Omeka, and PressForward.

Now under development, Tropy will ultimately let you import photographs, adjust them to ensure they are of adequate quality for your purposes, and attach metadata to those images, using a template. After import, you will also be able to batch-edit the metadata across multiple images, as well as edit individual images. In Tropy, images will be able to be organized via collections and/or tags, and accessed in a variety of ways: by browsing image collections and tags via list and thumbnail modes; by sorting these views using all available metadata, such as date, source archive, and title; and by searching across all available metadata, including notes.

All images stored in Tropy will be exportable to other applications on your computer and to external, web-based services (such as RRCHNM’s Omeka). We are particularly excited about the prospects that this offers for collaborations between researchers and the libraries and archives whose collections they are photographing. Institutions could provide metadata templates customized to their specific holdings. Researchers using those templates could share both images and item-level descriptions of collections, which institutions could then use in a variety of ways to enrich their catalogs, finding aids and digital collections.

We’ll be looking for input from both researchers and libraries and archives as we develop Tropy in the coming months. More news soon!

Archives by Year:

About

Since 1994, the Center for History and New Media at George Mason University has used digital media and computer technology to democratize history—to incorporate multiple voices, reach diverse audiences, and encourage popular participation in presenting and preserving the past. We sponsor more than two dozen digital history projects and offer free tools and resources for historians. Learn More

Featured Project

Teachinghistory.org

Teachinghistory.org is the central online location for accessing high-quality resources in K-12 U.S. history education. Explore the highlighted content on our homepage or visit individual sections for additional materials.