Photography

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:

720,000 Newly Digitized Historic Photos Show Where New Yorkers Lived in the 1940s

The New York City Department of Records & Information Services is home to a lot of documents and photographs; from Lindsay administration memos to crime scene photos, the expansive collection draws from 50 NYC agencies. The archives are so vast that it’s taking a while to digitize everything, but they did just release 720,000 images online.

The latest photo dump brings their 1940s tax photos online; tax photographs were taken by the City’s property tax office (or rather, by freelancers which they paid via funding from the Depression-era Works Progress Administration) as part of their assessment process. All in all, they show “every house and building in the five boroughs” from the decade, according to their press rep.

New Website of Nottingham Photos Goes Live 100 Years After Collection Was Launched

A new website hosting thousands of Nottingham, England, photographs went online today, one hundred years after the city’s photographic collection was established.

The Picture Nottingham site at www.picturenottingham.co.uk builds on the success of its predecessor, Picture the Past, will enable visitors to view thousands of images capturing the rich social heritage ranging over 200 years. Images include some of the oldest Nottingham photographs from the 1850s, taken by Samuel Bourne, as well as many local pictures, engravings and sketches dating from the 1700s onwards.

Russia in Color: Photos of Life Before the Revolution

The photographs of Sergey Prokudin-Gorsky provide a fascinating study of the Russian Empire from 1909 to 1915. They will be especially interesting with ancestors from these paces as the photos show the every-day lives of the Russians. Unlike most photographs of that period, Prokudin-Gorsky’s photos are in color.

Russian settlers in what is now Azerbaijan, 1910

As stated on the web site displaying the photographs:

X-ray Beam Illuminates Long-Forgotten Faces on Damaged Daguerreotypes

Anyone who wishes to restore or repair old photographs has a new tool available for use. As long as it is a Daguerreotype, experts at the Canadian Light Source, a high-energy X-ray facility in Saskatchewan, have discovered how to restore important details from daguerreotypes that have been written off as beyond recovery.

On the left is the image as it appears to the eye. On the right is the X-ray scan that reveals where mercury was deposited on the metal plate when the daguerreotype was originally produced.

Plains to Peaks Collective Shares Historic Collections from Colorado and Wyoming with the Digital Public Library of America

From the Colorado Digital Library:

The Colorado State Library is happy to announce that historic collections from Colorado and Wyoming are now part of the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA). The DPLA website (dp.la) is a free portal that allows visitors to discover over 21 million unique items from across the United States and then go directly to the digital collections held at the home institution. Visit the Colorado and Wyoming collections in the DPLA here.

The Denver & Rio Grande Western Railroad’s roundhouse and shops in Salida, Colorado. Click on the above image to view a larger version.

The Plains to Peaks Collective (PPC), the Colorado-Wyoming Service Hub of the DPLA, is a collaboration between the Colorado State Library and the Wyoming State Library that brings together descriptive information about collection material held by our libraries, archives, and museums, and makes it freely available to the world. Through the PPC institutions can now share their unique digital collections with a wider national audience of avid researchers, genealogists, students, teachers and history buffs. It is our hope that every institution in Colorado and Wyoming has the opportunity to participate in the DPLA through the PPC.

Families Gather to Recreate 1939 Photo of Ancestors

You might want to try this at your next family reunion. It would be a great way to remember your deceased relatives.

In the fall of 1939, five friends, “The Boys of Magnolia” gathered for a picture on the corner of Main St. in Magnolia, Ohio. The photo consisted of two sets of brothers and a close friend, Tony Tozzi, Daniel (Chappy) Cascioli, Mike Costello, Mike Tozzi and Lawrence Cascioli. The photograph was taken shortly before each of them was sent off to fight in World War II.

In the fall of 2017, another five men, all relatives of “the Boys of Magnolia” gathered at the same corner of Main St. in Magnolia, to pose for the recreation of a picture their ancestors had taken in 1939. The men in the modern photograph all dressed in clothing similar to what their older relatives had worn in the 1939 photo.

You can see the two photographs and read about the ten men in them in an article in the Free Press-Standard web site at: http://freepressstandard.com/families-gather-to-recreate-1939-photo-of-ancestors/.

Your Ancestors: the Swimsuit Edition

If Sports Illustrated can have an annual Swimsuit Edition, why can’t a genealogy blog or web site do the same?

Today’s picture of bathing beauties comes from the Shorpy.com web site, a site that specializes in displaying high-resolution images of old photographs. Entitled Bathing at York Beach, Maine, this photograph was taken around 1906.

Click on the above image to view a high-resolution version.

A New Database with Pictures of 18th and 19th Century Ireland is Launched

From an article by Micheál Ó Maoileoin in the Galway Daily:

“How was Ireland depicted in illustrations produced by travellers from 1680 to 1860? A new database of images drawn from travel accounts answers this question.

“Based on years of research by a group of investigators at NUI Galway led by Professor Jane Conroy, Ireland Illustrated is now available to view online.”

“Ireland Illustrated, 1680-1860, is a database of over 500 images of Ireland – woodcuts, water colours, engravings and other illustrations – with related text, drawn from more than 50 manuscript and printed works, and highlighting several neglected or rarely accessible sources.

Idaho Transportation Department launches ‘Travel Back through Idaho History’ Photo Collection

If you have ancestors or other relatives in Idaho in the past 100 years, you may be interested in a newly-released collection of photographs from the state. There are so many historical photos that really belong to the people. All these state agencies, we collect these over the years and they reflect our history,” ITD spokesperson Reed Hollinshead said.

The ITD launched its 30,000-photo archive on May 1, making historic photos of the state of Idaho available to the public.

New Brunswick Provincial Archives is Offering to Restore Photos and Documents Damaged by the Recent Flooding

The Provincial Archives in New Brunswick is offering to help residents restore or copy heirloom photos and documents damaged by recent flooding. Items to be considered for restoration include diaries, letters, maps, architectural drawings and photos. Photos can also be printed on paper, tin or glass.

The province says repairs of single documents will be done free of charge. Larger document recovery projects will be given quotes on a case-by-case basis.

Automobiles in Old Family Photographs

Sometimes we take certain things for granted. We often don’t stop to realize what life was like for our ancestors. We may have skills that our ancestor did not possess. Recently I stumbled across some old photographs that made me stop and think.

In 1905 the automobile was a novelty. Very few people had ever driven one, much less owned one. After looking at a couple of photographs, I realized that most people did not know how to drive in those days.

Today most adults are familiar with driving automobiles. However, 100 or more years ago, that was not true. In fact, the idea of someone driving an automobile was so unique that commercial photographers of the time often took advantage of the automobile to sell more photographs.

How can I Store my Digital Photos Forever?

Sure, it is easy to create digital photographs with today’s smartphones and digital cameras. But how do you keep them forever so that future generations may view them?

Actually, the process is simple and is well described in an article by Jack Schofield in The Guardian web site at http://bit.ly/2EGtWJL.

Schofield writes:

Snapshot of Ireland a Century Ago: an Online Photographic Archive

If you want to see what your Irish ancestors saw 100 years ago, you might want to look at the new Snapshot of Ireland on Ancestry.co.uk. The digitally restored black-and-white photographs date as far back as the Land War of the late 1800s. The historical prints and photographs include more than 120 images taken in Ireland, offering an insight into daily life in Irish cities, towns, villages and countryside between the late 1800s and the 1950s.

The collection is part of Ancestry’s UK Historical Photographs and Prints 1704-1989 set, which features more than 40,000 photographs. The full collection of photographs and prints is available to view online at ancestry.co.uk, and will be available without charge over Easter weekend.

Details may be found in the IrishTimes web site at: http://bit.ly/2GbTCn7.

Tens of Thousands of Unseen Post-War Images of Manchester, England, Unveiled Online for First Time

A new historical photo mapping web app Timepix.uk was launched in Manchester this week, giving the public the chance to explore how their streets looked in yesteryear. Pictures taken in the late 1940s to early 1950s were the equivalent of today’s Google Street View and are a fascinating insight into how Greater Manchester looked back then. They show surveyors from Ordnance Survey (OS) marking out Revision Points to map the city, but also capture faces of many unknown young children – who would be in their sixties or seventies today.

The pictures are offered for sale. You can view them online at no charge although the online versions have obvious watermarks embedded in them. The watermarks do not appear in the purchased hard copy versions.

You can read more in the Ordnance Survey web site at http://bit.ly/2IsJIuX while the images are available at https://www.timepix.uk/#/map.

You Never Know What You Will Find on eBay!

For years I have used a service of eBay that allows me to specify search terms for items being sold. I can specify the search terms once, and then eBay sends me an email notice whenever any new item is added to the online auction service with words in the item’s listing that match my search terms. I started doing that perhaps ten years ago or longer, and occasionally it has paid off.

I have often found items for sale that I would not have known about otherwise without manually checking every few days. I have purchased a number of “good finds” over the years, including old family history books, some CD-ROM disks containing genealogy information and county histories, and more. This week, it paid off big time!

Postmortem Photography

It sounds ghoulish but many of our ancestors accepted the idea as normal: photographing the corpses of family members shortly after their death. During the Victorian era, such photographs were meant to be happy reminders of the life of the deceased person for their families. Death, and personally dealing with death, was prevalent throughout the entire world as epidemics would come quickly and kill quickly. Postmortem photographs not only helped in the grieving process, but often represented the only visual remembrance of the deceased and were among a family’s most precious possessions. These were often called “Memento Mori Photography.” Memento mori is Latin for “remember that you have to die.”

 

Mother and deceased child