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Yale Project Makes 170,000 Depression-Era Photos Searchable with Interactive Database



Dorothea Lange’s iconic Migrant Mother, pictured above, is just one of the roughly 170,000 photographs taken between 1935 and 1945 for a project commissioned by the United State’s Farm Security Administration and Office of War Information (FSA-OWI).

All of those photos are currently being stored in the Library of Congress, but a dedicated team from Yale University is looking to revitalize this invaluable collection of photographs by organizing them, pairing them up, and explaining how these images and photographers came together to create the most comprehensive looks at America following the Great Depression and into the early years of WWII.

The resulting project is called Photogrammar, and it’s one of the most beautiful and comprehensive conglomerations of visuals and information you’re ever likely to stumble across.

Using interactive maps, dashboards and even color wheels, Photogrammar and its accompanying ‘Labs’ projects provide a visual hierarchy of information that brings the almost 80-year-old project back to life.

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The interactive map is the shining star of the project, with roughly 90,000 of the photographs plotted. Divided up into counties, the map allows you to simply click on a county and view the resulting image(s) and metadata. And if you’d like to narrow your search down by a specific photographer, date, or more specific geographical location (such as city), you can do that as well.

The ‘Labs’ visualizations also provide a unique insight into the massive collection of photographs. There’s an interactive treemap, a metadata dashboard and a colorspace picker that lets you parse through the images in a variety of ways. Currently, the Labs features are a bit limited, but as time goes on, their reach will grow further and further into the archive.

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Regardless of how you choose to explore and discover (or rediscover, as the case may be) this archive, the entire project is well-worth your time. You can head on over to the Yale Photogrammar website by clicking here.

(via CityLab)