Explore FSA Era (1935-1945) Photographs with Photogrammer

Explore FSA Era (1935-1945) Photographs with Photogrammer




From 1935 to 1945, the the Farm Security Administration — Office of War Information undertook the largest photography project ever sponsored by the federal government. With Photogrammer, an archive developed by a team of Yale academics led by Professor Laura Wexler, all 170,000 images can be explored using a number of different indexing tools.

A number of them are tools one might expect from a well designed online archive, allowing the user to explore by photographer, geographic location, or time. But more than these fairly standard metrics, Photogrammer allows their users some unique options to discover new gems in their collection: searching via treemap, metadata dashboard, and colorspace.

Their treemap is a "visualization of the classification system designed by Paul Vanderbilt in 1942. It is a three-tier classification starting with 12 main subject headings (ex. THE LAND), then 1300 sub-headings (ex. Mountains, Deserts, Foothills, Plains) and then sub-sub headings. 88,000 photographs were assigned classifications."

The metadata dashboard is an "interactive dashboard showing the relationship between date, county, photographer, and subject in photographs from individual states. The dashboard is still in development, but California is now available."

Colorspace allows the user to "explore the 17,000 color photographs based on hue, saturation and lightness."

These six dimensions give a complex view of the photographic collection, prompting users to think of new ways to sort through large amounts of visual and contextual data and reinvigorating what might seem to be a daunting collection of archival images. 

Happy hunting!

Try out Photogrammer