Documenting and Digitally Presenting Family Photographs

  • William Sims BainbridgeEmail author
Part of the Human–Computer Interaction Series book series (HCIS)


Old photographs are common family relics, frequently revered but too seldom documented with complete metadata. Beginning with an example of false identification, this chapter considers the challenge of identifying photos dating from the nineteenth century, and suggests that very common software today can be adapted as virtual albums, placing high priorities on ease of use and on durability of files. A glass-based portrait dating from 1847, and a gem tintype dating probably from 1864, remind us how photographic technology has evolved over the decades, and illustrate how easily a modern scanner can capture high quality images. Sections of a two-decade-old website support the argument that family historians may need to use simple and durable systems such as text-based HTML code rather than elaborate but potentially ephemeral software that feeds the online Cloud, when they assemble pictures with text. Another example of the classical hacker culture is to use PowerPoint not merely as a modern substitute for physical photo albums, but even as a tool for assembling fragments of information and images into a narrative that provides the wider meaning of historical photos. The chapter concludes with the poignant examples of two girls who died as children, in 1865 and 1870, establishing the wider meaning for their families, by connecting pictures of them to a diversity of online information sources.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Independent historianChantillyUSA

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