Making History More Accessible

by Don Friedman on August 9, 2016

The results of historical research can be boring or exciting, and that’s part of what makes the process interesting. But the logistics of the research don’t need to be painful or uncomfortable and often are. I’ve inhaled clouds of dust from old journals, got headaches from reading microfilm, and wasted a lot of time working my way through unorganized piles of photos. The use of computer technology isn’t going to improve (or harm) the results, but it can improve the logistics. Searching old journals as PDFs is better than reading microfilm, for example.

OldNYC has created a visual, map-based index to the historical photos of New York in the New York Public Library’s collection. Here’s a still shot of downtown Flushing:

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The dots represent different historical photographs. Clicking on a dot brings up the photographs associated with that location. While this method of index may reduce the possibility of happy accidental finds, it allows the researcher to easily zero in on the pictures of interest.

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