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The Humphrey Winterton Collection of East African Photographs: 1860-1960

The website for the Humphrey Winterton Collection of East African Photographs: 1860-1960 was created in order to increase access to the materials in the collection, which includes of 7,610 photographs, 230 glass lantern slides, and various other materials


This project was supported by a National Leadership Grant from the Institute for Museum and Library Services, grant number LG-05-05-0513-06. The three primary goals of the project were to support teaching about Africa, test emerging digital preservation standards, and to ensure that both the physical and digital collections are preserved.

An Advisory Committee (see credits, below) of K-12 and university faculty met several times throughout the 2.5 year project to define potential uses of the collection, evaluate prototypes, and offer guidance to the project staff. Mark Notess and Frances Jacobsen acted as consultants on the project for usability and information design.

Notess conducted two days of hands-on usability testing during the African Studies Association's 2008 Annual Meeting.

The descriptive metadata for this collection is stored in Encoded Archival Description (EAD) XML format. A crosswalk from EAD to Metadata Object Description Schema (MODS) was implemented to support faceting and searching in SOLR. This approach maintains the original collection hierarchy for contextual exploration, but also supports more flexible direct-object discovery.

The collection was digitized by Northwestern University Advanced Media Production Studio (NUAMPS) according to the Northwestern University Library's established standards for digital archiving.

Photos were digitized in their original enclosures and groupings, one scan per album page, at 600dpi. NUAMPS used a BetterLight scanning system and constructed a gentle cradle support to minimize stress to bindings and materials (see the NUAMPS In-house Digitization page for more information). NUAMPS' expert team of digital image specialists meticulously post-processed all of the images.

All images were saved as uncompressed TIFF files, and JPEG2000 derivatives were created. In order to provide quick access directly to individual images, the project assistants (Caizzi, Robillard and Quinn) generated "crop" data to identify the boundary coordinates of each photo within its larger context. In this way, the interface can support both quick image searches and more in-depth browsing through photos grouped on pages, in albums, and in thematic groups.

To date, this is the largest and most complex collection to be ingested into the Northwestern repository, which is built on the Fedora platform. Throughout the course of the project, two distinguished colleagues, Robin Dale and Ron Jantz, offered guidance on digital preservation issues, leading the Northwestern team through a preliminary evaluation of the repository based on the Trustworthy Repositories Audit & Certification (TRAC) checklist, and helped Northwestern to establish a sound approach to creating and maintaining preservation metadata in PREMIS.

Additional information about the PREMIS profile, the repository architecture and other technical specifications will be added to this site over the coming months. Please watch this space for additional reports.