Life through a Lens - Royal Photographic Society Journal archive published online

Using digitisation services and web design from TownsWeb Archiving, The Royal Photographic Society (RPS) has been able to publish its historic Journal collection online as an interactive, fully-searchable digital archive.

RPS digital archive website

Simon Chandler-Barratt & Dr Michael Pritchard

Pictured: left -  The RPS Journal online archive website. Right - Simon Chandler-Barratt of TWA and Dr Michael Pritchard of RPS (respectively)

First published in 1853 when The Society was founded, the RPS Journal is the oldest continuously published photographic periodical in the world.

The Journal began predominantly as a means of sharing reports of the Society’s regular meetings among its members, but evolved over time to become a showcase the work of members and the world's best photographers, as well as a source of technical information and a reflection of The Society through time.

Digitally preserving 160 years of photography excellence

The RPS chose to undertake the Journal digitisation project in partnership with TownsWeb Archiving as part of The Society’s 160th anniversary commemorations in 2013.

The archive consists of over 150 volumes, which the Society wanted to digitise and make available online as a freely accessible resource for its members, genealogists and other researchers.

TownsWeb Digitisation Operatives scanned approximately 30,000 Journal pages as part of the project, using our specialist digitisation equipment. Each page was captured as a high resolution digital image and valuable metadata (such as volume, page number) was recorded within the title of each image file.

Staff then put the digital images through an Optical Character Recognition (OCR) process to extract all of the text content and convert it to digital metadata held against each image, in order to enable keyword searching of the text on each page when the collection was sent live on the web.

Publishing the Journals online

Co-ordinating with Dr Michael Pritchard, Director-General at RPS, TownsWeb Designers and Web Developers created a bespoke archive website to showcase the digitised Journal collection and allow browsing through its content.

The website also incorporates advanced search facilities for users to find specific information by keyword searching against metadata fields.

Speaking about the project, Dr Michael Pritchard said

“The Society chose to make its Journal from 1853 to 2012 freely available to the public online to support researchers, family historians and those interested in photography. TownsWeb provided a professional and cost-effective solution to help realise this, as well as integration into The Society’s new website.”

Watch our video interview

To hear Dr Michael Pritchard talk more about this exciting digitisation project and what it means to the RPS, take a look at the video below. Or click here to visit the RPS archive website.