Help Identify People and Events in JMU’s Historic Photos!
Posted on: November 2, 2020
We are on a quest to identify the people and events pictured in JMU’s historic photos. You can help! Here’s how:
- Look for the #JMUHistoricPhotoQuest hashtag on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook.
- Enjoy glimpses of JMU’s past.
- Comment on the post if you recognize someone in a photo, or know something about the event pictured. If you don’t want to comment publicly, you can email us at email@example.com.
Why are we on this quest?
Just as information about old photos from your past can spark memories and stories, information about historic photos can help tell the JMU story. Names, dates, and other information that describe items in our collections is called metadata, and it helps historians, students, and others explore the culture and history of JMU. This information not only makes it easier to delve into the past, but also makes it possible to bring important stories to light through exhibits, such as Black and White on Bluestone Hill: JMU’s Racial History in the Archives, books, events, and more.
The archivists at JMU Libraries apply the Principles of Archival Description when describing (or adding metadata to) collections in our holdings. We recognize that description is iterative, and should reflect changes in knowledge, practice, and values over time. We are committed to describing (and re-describing) our collections in ways that respect and center people who have been historically silenced in archives and archival collections.
As we move forward to intentionally and consciously re-describe collections like the JMU Historic Photographs, we are guided by the expertise and scholarship of archivists who are leading the field to address exclusionary descriptive practices. Learn more here:
- Conscious Editing: Enhancing Diversity and Discovery
- Archives for Black Lives in Philadelphia: Anti-Racist Description Resources
Where did these photos come from?
The James Madison University Historic Photographs collection is one of JMU Libraries Special Collections’ most frequently used collections. This collection of approximately 1700 photographs was created by Libraries staff, from multiple sources in the 1990s, to document the people, places, and events that make up campus life at JMU. The earliest images depict campus at its beginnings in the 1910s, and the most recent photos date to the 1990s. Many of the more recent images first appeared in official campus publications like course catalogs or recruitment brochures, and were created by university photographers.
Photographs in the collection were digitized and made available online in the late 1990s with minimal accompanying metadata or description, other than topical categories that grouped photos with similar subjects, sources, and dates together.
Over the past year, student employees and Special Collections archivists have re-scanned each image, and have been working to better describe and increase the discoverability of these photographs, with the goal of moving them to a searchable platform.
Where does your part of this quest start?
Throughout 2020-21, we will share historic photos using the hashtag #JMUHistoricPhotoQuest to connect with those who lived through the times and events pictured, and enrich the description of the images in the collection.
We’ll start by seeking information about the people, places, and events pictured in a series of photographs of African American students at JMU, with approximate dates of “before 1985.”
If you have additional information about the people, places, and events pictured in our social media posts, we would love to learn more from you. You can comment on the post if you recognize someone in a photo, or know something about the event pictured. If you don’t want to comment publicly, you can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Questions about this project?
Please contact Special Collections staff at email@example.com.
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