Digitized Photographic Archives

By: Myrto Theocharidou  

Digitization does not only concern the preservation of cultural material but also affects its accessibility and distribution. As part of the process of entering the digital era, many institutions create and maintain online databases available to the public. The examination of the use of digital photographic archives maintained by memory forming institutions such as museums, libraries, and archives, has provided valuable information regarding the impact and utility of these databases. However, such examinations usually do not consider the use and impact of digitized photographs outside of memory forming institutions’ archives and in comparison to non-institutional sources. Facebook groups dedicated to old/vintage photographs are an overlooked but very active digital community, which might be using and disseminating digital material from these archives. This study argues for the need to examine the unknown possible users or non-users of the databases who are active in the digital public sphere, such as the members of Facebook groups dealing with old/vintage photographs, in order to better understand how people access digital material and how and why they use them. The paper also examines how institutions with large digitized photographic archives, such as the Smithsonian Institute and Europeana, promote and anticipate the uses of these archives, and how people use or do not use these archival photographs in their everyday life. This project is part of the European Training Network POEM (Participatory Memory Practices), funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement No. 764859.

Facebook, Europeana, Smithsonian, Digital Community, Digitized Photographs, Digital Archive, Users
Technologies in Knowledge Sharing
Paper Presentation in a Themed Session

Myrto Theocharidou

Cyprus University of Technology

PhD fellow at the Cyprus University of Technology, currently exploring the uses of massive digital composite cultural archives.