John Wymer’s DC: A Digital Integration Project for Image Collections Designing a Map Interface for Historic Image Overlay Open Access
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In recent decades, online access to museum material has become more commonplace as it enables users to rapidly acquire information from any location with internet. Thus, digitization is the next step in order to make paper-based museum collections widely accessible. For historic photograph collections, an essential part of the digitization process should be to provide contextual background. For geolocative images, this can be accomplished through a user-interactive mapping interface, grounding the photographs in their geographic context by reference to maps and contemporary images.This project examines the development of such a mapping tool; how it can be applicable to the work of museum professionals, anthropologists, and historians; and how it can connect the public with cultural heritage and public history resources. Institutions that have tried similar projects are critically evaluated based on accessibility of the material and the narrative presented. Topics such as cultural heritage, museum digital content, and education are explored through the lens of public accessibility.A case study of the implementation of this mapping tool is provided using the John Wymer Photograph Collection from the Historical Society of Washington, DC. This collection contains approximately 4,000 images of Washington, DC, photographed by Wymer from 1948 to 1952. To demonstrate the power and use of integrating historic collections into the interactive digital sphere, a website hosts a map interface which allows users to toggle between the historic Wymer images and modern Google Street View. Additional context about Wymer, the collection, and the project are also incorporated on the website.