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Photogrammar Project & Depression-Era Photo Archives

Wednesday October 10, 3:00 pm
Sterling Memorial Library International Room

From 1935 to 1945, during the Great Depression and World War II, the Federal government, under the Farm Securities Administration and Office of War Information, commissioned over 170,000 photographs of the nation. Due to the large number of these photographs, scholarly research into the FSA-OWI collection has relied primarily on the photographers' correspondence and anecdotal evidence garnered from relatively few images. Other sciences and social sciences, however, frequently manage to make qualitative and quantitative inferences from large data sets. How can we use similar methods and technology to study large media collections in the humanities? Additionally, how can such a large collection be made available and accessible to the general public? In this panel, we show how visual data can be revisualized and reimagined by putting into a single conversation current issues in the digital humanities, visual culture studies, empirical social sciences, and statistical computing. We will display the prototype of a website, titled photogrammar, dedicated to reimagining the FSA-OWI photograph collection, which currently exists as a simple repository on the Library of Congress' website. By seeing these photographs as points on interactive geospatial maps, users are able to transform current paradigms of the collection as a simple archive of images into a dynamic tool, viewable in an array of spatial, temporal, and topical dimensions.

The panel will feature the members of the Photogrammar Project interdisciplinary team which includes Professor Laura Wexler (American Studies and Women's, Gender & Sexuality Studies), map guru Stacey Maples (Map Collection), technologist Ken Panko (Instructional Technology) and graduate students Lauren Tilton (American Studies) and Taylor Arnold (Statistics). All are welcome.

Yale University Library's Standing Committee on Professional Awareness, SCOPA, strives to encourage professional growth and the development of librarianship as a dynamic profession. SCOPA organizes a regular series of forums devoted to a wide range of topics concerning initiatives in Yale libraries and academic libraries in general. SCOPA welcomes suggestions concerning possible future forums.