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The Royal Photographic Society - Publishing a Journal Archive with PastView

Posted by Ryan Kyle on February 16, 2019 at 9:41 AM

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Using digitisation services through TownsWeb Archiving and web design through our PastView platform, The Royal Photographic Society (RPS) were able to publish their historic Journal collection online, as an interactive, fully-searchable digital archive.222

The RPS Journal is the oldest continuously published photographic periodical in the world, dating back to 1853.

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

Digitally preserving 160 years of photography excellence

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

The archive consists of over 158 volumes, which the Society wanted to digitise and make available online as a freely accessible resource for its members, genealogists and other researchers.

We had the pleasure of scanning approximately 44,068 Journal pages, using specialist digitisation equipment.  Each page was captured as a high resolution digital image with the valuable metadata (such as volume and page number) recorded within the title of each image file.

The digital images were then put through a process of Optical Character Recognition (OCR) to extract all of the text content and convert it to digital metadata, which was then held against each image, in order to enable keyword searching across the entire collection.

Publishing Journals online

Co-ordinating with Dr Michael Pritchard, Director-General at RPS, our PastView's designers and web developers created a bespoke archive website to showcase the digitised Journal collection and allow browsing of 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:

"Townsweb's approach to the digitisation of over 30,000 pages of varying quality and the care taken with fragile bindings was excellent. The project has opened up the RPS Journal on the PastView platform in a cost-effective way, which has been important as we chose to the make it freely available."

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.