Photography

Thousands of Free Historic Photographs Online

Sometimes you can find valuable gems in unexpected places. One example is the UnSplash web site.

According to Wikipedia:

“Unsplash is a website dedicated to sharing stock photography under the Unsplash license. The website claims over 110,000 contributing photographers and generates more than 9 billion photo impressions per month on their growing library of over 810,000 photos.[1] Unsplash has been cited as one of the world’s leading photography websites by Forbes, Entrepreneur Magazine, CNET, Medium and The Next Web.”

I am amazed at the many photos about all sort of topics that may be found on UnSplash.com. Best of all, you may download and use the photos for all sorts of purposes free of charge.

For instance, while looking for photos I could use in this genealogy newsletter, I went to https://unsplash.com and entered a search for “Ellis Island.”

How to Digitize and Archive Your Entire Family Photo Collection

From an article in the reddit web site:

“Four years ago I decided that I should try and digitally archive my family’s photo collection dating from mid-nineteenth century up to today. It was a painstaking process but I learnt a lot doing it which may be useful for anyone else looking to attempt something similar. I used an iMac for this process and IMO it is the best tool for the job, but I am sure something similar could be done on another system.

“The vast majority of photos between 1850 and 2000 were still in a physical format, either prints or slides. And the photos since 2000 are largely digital already. I decided to start with the digital photos as I could make a big impact relatively quickly. My original photos were in folders like “Helen wedding”, “Scotland Holiday 2010”. I thought long and hard about how to organise them coming up with all sorts of incredibly specific ways of doing it before hitting on the solution; put them all in one folder. All 26,000 of them. So I went from having photos in a couple of hundred different folders to just one.”

Another quote from later in the article:

Nearly 37,000 Historic Photos from Central Illinois, Many Never Before Published, are now Available to Everyone with an Internet Connection, Digitally Restored and Preserved

Thanks to the McLean County Museum of History, which took on more than a million Pantagraph negatives several years ago and, with public and private partners, turned them from decaying celluloid to pristine digital files that can be viewed at the Illinois Digital Archives’s web site: idaillinois.org.

In the early 1930s, Pantagraph staffers started making 4-by-5-inch negatives with Speed Graphic cameras and “kept basically everything,” said Photo Editor David Proeber. That started the archive that the museum is now digitizing, beginning with 36,641 photos from 1933 to 1944.

Civilian Conservation Corps recruits pose outside the Bloomington Post Office on March 29, 1934. This photo and 37,000 others were restored from negatives by McLean County Museum of History and partners.

FRANK BILL, PANTAGRAPH COLLECTION, MCLEAN COUNTY MUSEUM OF HISTORY

Click on the above image to view a larger version

That process took seven months but produced a database identifying more than 5,500 individual people across 22 Illinois counties.

Hong Kong’s Packed “Vertical Graveyards” on Hillsides

With space at a premium in the densely packed city, Hong Kong cemeteries are built into the surrounding mountains in an almost vertical fashion. Many of these terraced burial sites were built in the 1980s as a last-ditch effort to create more space in a city that is running out of places to bury the dead.

In fact, the government highly encourages cremation for these reasons, with 90% of the deceased in Hong Kong taking that path in 2013. Still, as Chinese customs call for loved ones to be buried close to their native land, people are desperate to ensure their family members have a proper resting place.

Footage With Authentic Audio From 1928 England

Old black-and-white movies from the 1920s are not that rare. However, almost all of them are silent movies. A recently discovered 90-year-old movie with matching audio recorded in real time? That’s truly special.

You can see a bit of life in England in the nearly 48-minute movie filmed in 1928 at https://youtu.be/NqyiMrIgwcw or click on the video above.

Google Photos just got an Awesome Feature that makes it a Must-Have for Android, iPhone, and iPad Devices

This article isn’t about genealogy but it is about a new software tool that will be valuable for genealogists and for millions of others.

From an article by Chris Smith in the BGR.com web site:

“Google Photos is easily one of the best apps you could have installed on your phone, especially if it’s an Android device, and especially a specific type of Android that comes with unlimited storage. Even if you prefer a different cloud or storage device for your photos, you should still consider getting the Google Photos app on your Android or iPhone right now, because the service is about to get a super convenient feature.

“That’s optical character recognition (OCR), a feature that allows Google to read the text in photos and turn it into text that you can search for, and even copy and paste into documents. That’s a handy feature to have on a phone, especially if you find yourself taking lots of photos of things that contain plenty of text that you’d want to be able to access later.”

Genealogy Sleuthing: How to Date Old Family Photos – Part II

Last week, I published a brief article about Genealogy Sleuthing: How to Date Old Family Photos that simply pointed to an article in the Legacy Tree Genealogists’ blog, entitled Genealogy Sleuthing: How to Date Old Family Photos – Part I. If you read the article and enjoyed it, I am sure that you ill also want to know that Part II of the article has now been published at https://www.legacytree.com/blog/womens-fashion-date-old-photos.

If you missed Part I, you can start there at https://www.legacytree.com/blog/date-old-family-photos.

Genealogy Sleuthing: How to Date Old Family Photos

From part one of a two part series of sharing tips on how to date and identify old family photos, published on the Legacy Tree Genealogists’ blog:

“Many family historians have a collection of unidentified old family photos they’re not sure what to do with–but can’t bear to throw out. In this article, we’ll share tips for helping you accurately date old family photos.

Vivid-Pix Announces Adding Metadata Zoom/Transcribe Feature to its RESTORE Software

I have written several times about the very powerful Vivid-Pix image editor software. (See http://bit.ly/2XPoNJA for a list of my earlier articles about Vivid-Pix.) Vivid-Pix RESTORE provides fast and easy ways to improve your images and add metadata that adheres to international standards. The software will improve the color, contrast, and clarity of your images. In announcing the latest version, Rick Voight, CEO of Vivid-Pix, stated:

“Up until now, this has been a tedious and difficult chore. With a couple of mouse-clicks, users can improve document legibility, zoom into the image to read important facts, notate these facts into the image metadata, tag key words for searching, and save this improved image quickly and easily.”

Here is the official announcement written by Vivid-Pix:

Vivid-Pix announces adding metadata zoom/transcribe feature to its RESTORE software at Allen County Public Library

Vivid-Pix launches update at largest public library genealogy center in America

Alpharetta, Ga. and Ft. Wayne, Ind. – Vivid-Pix, the inventor of easy-to-use image-improvement software, announced the latest Vivid-Pix RESTORE software enhancement – Zoom/Transcribe – will be launched July 9, at the Allen County Public Library, home to the largest genealogy center in a public library in America.

See Long Hidden Historic Photos of the Gritty, Compelling Lives of Tough Maine Fishermen

The Penobscot Marine Museum in Searsport, Maine recently finished preserving, scanning and cataloging National Fisherman magazine’s massive photographic archive. The images previously were stuffed into filing cabinets at the publication’s Portland office for decades. Now, every image is online, in a searchable database, for the whole world to see for free.

“The broad ranging archive reveals the compelling, gritty world of commercial fishing. The collection of prints and negatives originally accompanied stories and advertisements. They show emerging technology, as well as everyday fisherfolk hauling nets, processing the catch, repairing trawlers, building boats and setting Coast Guard buoys.”

Press Release: Vivid-Pix adds Image Metadata Creation and Artificial Intelligence Image-Improvement Capabilities to its RESTORE Software

I have written about Vivid-Pix’s very impressive photo restoration and preservation software. See http://bit.ly/2XPoNJA for the past articles. Now the company has added major new enhancements to the software. The following was written by Vivid-Pix:

Alpharetta, Ga. – For centuries, people have written on the backs of photos and made notations on pictures and documents to retain knowledge, like date, time or location, about the image or record. This was an easy way to provide insights to future readers. In the digital world, adding information – known as “metadata” – to an image was difficult, but Vivid-Pix just made it easy with its updated RESTORE software for Mac and Windows.

How does it work? Imagine scanning or finding an old record or photograph about an ancestor. By selecting this image in RESTORE, you improve the color, contrast, sharpness and lightness in 1 click with Vivid-Pix patented software and then, with one more click, you can type in any information you wish about that image. The improved image and information are automatically saved as a new file that does not affect the original image.

Notre-Dame de Paris in Pictures

I am sure everyone has heard this week’s sad news from Paris. Those of us with Parisian ancestors will be interested in the historic paintings and photographs that are now available on the Library of Congress’ web site at: http://bit.ly/2UMMMvK.

Notre-Dame de Paris - circa 1865

Notre-Dame de Paris – circa 1865

At that site, you can see what many of our ancestors saw over the years.

Thousands of old Edmonton, Alberta Historical Photos are now Online

Last October, the City of Edmonton Archives launched a new website and began transferring selected black and while images from its massive collection onto the new system. The new website now contains more than half of their target of 50,000 photos.

You can read more and also watch a video of the City of Edmonton’ archivist, Tim O’Grady, in an article by Adrienne Lamb and Rick Bremness in the CBC News web site at: http://bit.ly/2FU1wyP.

Lost Photos Mystery Solved

Two weeks ago police in Glasgow issued an unusual lost property appeal. A collection of old photos, perhaps treasured family memorabilia, had been found at a department store. Solving the mystery revealed an unexpected link to one of the darkest moments in the history of the BBC.

The photographs had been found in Glasgow’s John Lewis store last year and handed in to police. With no-one coming forward to claim them and thinking they may have sentimental value, officers posted them on social media.

Newspapers and websites picked up the story and soon a team of amateur sleuths and genealogists were working on the puzzle. It wasn’t long before the mystery began to unravel. Much of the detective work was skillfully provided by genealogist Sue Wright.

You can read the interesting story by Calum Watson in the BBC Scotland News website at https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-scotland-47359945.

My thanks to newsletter reader John Rees for telling me about this interesting story.

Genealogy Guys and Vivid-Pix Partner to Recognize Genealogy’s Unsung Heroes

The following announcement was written by the Genealogy Guys (George G. Morgan and Drew Smith) and by Vivid-Pix:

The Genealogy Guys, George G. Morgan and Drew Smith, co-hosts and producers of the oldest continually produced genealogy podcast, and Vivid-Pix, makers of RESTORE photo and document restoration software, today announce that they are partnering to acknowledge and to celebrate those members of the genealogy community who digitize or index photos and other documents of value to genealogical researchers. The Unsung Heroes Awards will be a quarterly awards program designed to recognize its recipients in four categories: individuals, genealogical/historical societies, libraries/archives, and young people.

Completed nomination forms (see below for link to the form) should be emailed to genealogyguys@gmail.com and winners will be selected each quarter. Winners will receive: a custom-made commemorative mug with their choice of image; an announcement on an episode of The Genealogy Guys Podcast; a profile of the winner published on The Genealogy Guys Blog and the Unsung Heroes Blog; and recognition at the Vivid-Pix website (www.vivid-pix.com).

Cullman County, Alabama, Historic Photographs Online

Wallace State Community College’s Genealogy online collection features photographs from Cullman County’s past for the public’s use. Wallace State’s Library has collected many other photographs over the years including an entire defunct newspaper’s archives. Those images will join the other collections on the Wallace State website at wallacestate.edu/library/genealogy.

Croom Family Reunion 1930

Thousands of Ottoman-Era Photographs from Turkey are now Online

If you have ancestors from Turkey, you will be interested in a new online collection of photographs. The digitization project focused on photographs from the nineteenth century until World War I (Series I–VIII), resulting in 3,750 individual records of digital files.

Pierre de Gigord Collection of Photographs of the Ottoman Empire and the Republic of Turkey, 1850-1958

French collector Pierre de Gigord traveled to Turkey and collected thousands of Ottoman-era photographs in a variety of media and formats. The resulting Pierre de Gigord Collection is now housed in the Getty Research Institute, which recently digitized over 12,000 of the nineteenth- and early twentieth-century photographs, making them available to study and download for free online.

Photopea: A Free Alternative to Photoshop

NOTE: This isn’t a true genealogy article. However, many genealogists also collect old and new family photographs and those photos often need “improvements” performed by photo editing software. If you have an interest in photo restoration, I suggest you read on.

For many years, the most famous photo editing software has been Photoshop, produced by Adobe. In fact, it is a very powerful product, available for both Macintosh and Windows, and is used by professional photographers everywhere. There is one huge drawback to Photoshop, however: it is very expensive. The later versions of Photoshop are available only as monthly subscriptions. For a single user, the price is $20.99 US per month. That’s $251.88 US per year, and most subscribers will want to use it for several years. In short, you can expect to pay $1,000 US or more over the next few years for the use of Photoshop.

One popular substitute has been Photoshop Elements, a lower priced product with fewer capabilities. But even Photoshop Elements is too expensive for many people at $99.99. Luckily, Photoshop Elements isn’t subscription based and won’t require payment year after year.

However, there are several FREE competitors that perform most of the same functions as Photoshop. For years, GIMP (an abbreviation for the “GNU Image Manipulation Program”) has been available as a very powerful image editor FREE of charge. The biggest drawback of GIMP is its unusual user interface. Learning to use all the power in GIMP takes many hours of study.

If you don’t like GIMP and you don’t want to pay an exorbitant price for Photoshop, you might want to look at Photopea.

Civil War Facial Recognition

Photography was a new technology at the time of the U.S. Civil War. An estimated 40 million photos were taken during the Civil war – although only four million are believed to remain today. Many have been treated as heirloom photos by families ever since. Still others are valuable for their historical value. One problem is that many of the people shown in the old photographs have never been identified, until now.

In a marriage of the latest technology and 150-year-old technology, computerized facial recognition techniques are now identifying many of the people in the old photographs.

Computer scientist and history buff Kurt Luther created a free-to-use website, called Civil War Photo Sleuth, that uses facial recognition technology to cross-reference vintage photographs with a database and hopefully assign a name to unknown subjects.

The New York Times will Digitize its Photo Archive

This may turn out to be a gold mine for historians and genealogists alike. The New York Times is planning to digitize more than a century’s worth of photographs, and it is going to use Google Cloud to do so.

The plan is to digitize MILLIONS of images — some dating back to the late nineteenth century — to ensure they can be accessed by generations to come. The digitization process will also prove useful for journalists who will be able to delve into the archives far more easily in future.

Until now, historic news articles and photos have been stored on microfilm and in other physical forms. This is not only difficult to catalog and navigate, but also prone to deterioration over time and through use.

Brian Stevens, Chief Technical Officer of Google Cloud, stated: