PhotoSearch FUNctional prototype

School children on the school bus

Photosearch was the first online catalogue released by the Archives, in 1998. Since then, it has had a couple of functional and cosmetic changes, but has stayed essentially the same.

In June 2012, the Archives sponsored a 24 hour event called GovHack in which developers got together and worked on government data sets, creating, tweaking and inspiring how we can view our data. We supplied our PhotoSearch data and had a great deal of people interested in working with it. In total, 10 PhotoSearch prototypes were created in a single day. The tools created really showed us that there are new ways of searching this wonderful resource.

This new functional prototype adapts some of these ideas from the GovHack event, and incorporates some of our own.

Utilising a full-text index to search hundreds of thousands records in milliseconds with the ability to search by keyword, series, barcode, control symbol and wildcard characters. You can quickly refine your searches within a date range then sort on the data fields.

Similar to Google image results, it presents the users with a grid of photographs at the highest quality while maintaining the aspect ratio and without impacting on performance. You can load more photographs in as you scroll down giving you an ‘endless scroll’ effect. The photographs by default are sorted by relevance but can be sorted on the other data fields and will refresh the display.

In an effort to increase the accessibility of the photographic records a user can add appropriate tags and geo-locate the photograph. You can browse by tags and location. Locations are marked on a Google map interface.

The crowdsourced location data has also enabled the Archives to put our photographs up on the Smithsonian website, You can check out our stream at|photos/list/

The photographs can also be shared on your favourite social media channels by navigating to a photo and using the social media icons, so get sharing!

Update: The PhotoSearch FUNctional prototype has provided the Archives with useful insights into the capabilities we can incorporate into our search systems, and has now reached the end of its life as a stand alone website. The website is being decommissioned, though you can look forward to updates to PhotoSearch itself as we start to incorporate aspects of the prototype that worked well.

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