"The Flickr community is invited to assist in the identification..."

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Elizabeth Sabin GoodwinSome time ago, I wrote a blog post urging the stewards of the Beryl Ford Collection to post the collection on Flickr, so as to invite public participation in collecting data about people, places, and times depicted in photos and ephemera from Tulsa history. A couple of months later, I learned that Flickr has a special program specifically for archives like the Beryl Ford Collection. It's called Flickr Commons, and it's being used by the likes of the Library of Congress, the Smithsonian Institution, and national archives in the US, UK, New Zealand, the Netherlands, Scotland, and Texas.

Smaller institutions are participating as well: The Bergen Public Library, the Jewish Historical Society of the Upper Midwest, and the Upper Arlington (Ohio) History collection. Tulsa's Beryl Ford Collection would fit right in.

The institutions are participating in Flickr Commons to make their collections more widely available and to extend their ability to identify what they have, using Flickr's built-in tools to collect comments, notes, and geographical and chronological metadata about each photo.

The key goals of The Commons on Flickr are to firstly show you hidden treasures in the world's public photography archives, and secondly to show how your input and knowledge can help make these collections even richer.

Today I found a great example of how this works. The Smithsonian Institution is publishing a series of photos called "Women in Science." One of the photos is of Elizabeth Sabin Goodwin. The photo's description:

The Flickr community is invited to assist in the identification of Ms. Goodwin.

And so they have. Within a month or so, someone found her 1924 wedding announcement in the Washington Post's online archives. A mention of her high school and age led to her photo in the Central High School yearbook, and later obituaries for her father and husband turned up. Recently, her granddaughter came across the photo and provided more information about Elizabeth Sabin Goodwin, and why this artist would have been included in the Science Service's collection -- she was an illustrator for a science magazine.

More here about E. S. Goodwin on indicommons, a blog devoted to interesting finds in The Commons on Flickr.

Here's another example of Web 2.0 collaboration to identify historic photos: Amateur history detectives discovered that the surname of this woman of science had been mis-transcribed from handwriting -- "Gans" was misread as "Gaus."


Still plenty of mystery women of science to be identified: Who is J. M. Deming? Or Miss W. Dennis?

Indicommons brings together photos of the 1893 Chicago World's Fair from various Commons collections. There's a Google Earth overlay of Columbian Exposition photos, too.

The Texas State Archives debuts with architectural drawings of state park facilities built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s.

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on May 17, 2010 12:55 AM.

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