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Introducing the Photographers’ Identities Catalog

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Today the New York Public Library is pleased to announce the launch of Photographers’ Identities Catalog (PIC), a collection of biographical data for over 115,000 photographers, studios, manufacturers, dealers, and others involved in the production of photographs. PIC is world-wide in scope and spans the the entire history of photography. So if you’re a historian, student, archivist, cataloger or genealogist, we hope you’ll make it a first stop for your research. And if you’re into data and maps, you’re in luck, too: all of the data and code are free to take and use as you wish.

Globe

Each entry has a name, nationality, dates, relevant locations and the sources from which we’ve gotten the information—so you can double check our work, or perhaps find more information that we don’t include. Also, you might find genders, photo processes and formats they used, even collections known to have their work. It’s a lot of information for you to query or filter, delimit by dates, or zoom in and explore on the map. And you can share or export your results.

 78659
Blanche Bates. Image ID: 78659

How might PIC be useful for you? Well, here’s one simple way we make use of it in the Photography Collection: dating photographs. NYPL has a handful of cabinet card portraits of the actress Blanche Bates, but they are either undated or have a very wide range of dates given.

The photographer’s name and address are given: the Klein & Guttenstein studio at 164 Wisconsin Street, Milwaukee. Search by the studio name, and select them from the list. In the locations tab you’ll find them at that address for only one year before they moved down the street; so, our photos were taken in 1899. You could even get clever and see if you can find out the identities of the two partners in the studio (hint: try using the In Map Area option).

Klein Guttenstein globe

But there’s much more to explore with PIC: you can find female photographers with studios in particular countries, learn about the world’s earliest photographers, and find photographers in the most unlikely places…

Moon

Often PIC has a lot of information or can point you to sources that do, but there may be errors or missing information. If you have suggestions or corrections, let us know through the Feedback form. If you’re a museum, library, historical society or other public collection and would like to let us know what photographers you’ve got, talk to us. If you’re a scholar or historian with names and locations of photographers and studios—particularly in under-represented areas—we’d love to hear from you, too!

Berenice Abbott screenshot

 

Comments

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Photo London

Awesome! Congrats and I can't wait to play with this. Any chance of you contacting Photo London and getting hold of their data for inclusion? They are no longer updating their website http://www.photolondon.org.uk/

Re: Photo London

In fact, Victoria, we have 8508 names from Photo London in PIC already! I *do* need to index it better at some point, so our links would take you straight to the correct record. http://pic.nypl.org/map/?address.AddressTypeID=*&address.CountryID=*&Nationality=*&gender.TermID=*&process.TermID=*&role.TermID=*&format.TermID=*&biography.TermID=2028008&collection.TermID=*&bbox=*&DisplayName=*&Date=*&mode=2

Fantastic!

This is an incredible resource. For both my own research and to help others I find myself trawling local, often poorly structured directories (when I can find them) but to have everything in one place is superb. I also hope it will now act as a focal point for those who can add further names, or just details. The fact that it is available as open data is the icing on the cake. Congratulations to all involved.

Robeborugh=Roseborough?

Roseborough and Robeborough, both Canadians, are probably the same person, in your PIC database. Pleased with how many Canadians are said to be listed.

Resource for copyright issues, too

One of the on going issues in genealogy where photos are concerned has to do with copyright. Is something still under copyright or is it in the public domain? Who would own the copyright if it exists? Even if the image is in the public domain, it is both courteous and ethical to credit the photographer, and to identify where the image is held for verification purposes. Because so many photographs just seem to show up, passed from one person to another without attribution, often the photographer is not known, and often not even the source. That leaves the image itself open to questions. A database such as the Photographers Identity Catalog should help tremendously in addressing these issues. I am excited to see it happening (having already experienced photographs of mine used without permission and without attribution).

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