The Historical Society of Pennsylvania has begun a two-year project to enhance description and discovery of its graphics materials and promote the linking and sharing of content among institutions and scholars. This project was funded by a grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission’s (NHPRC) Innovation in Archives and Documentary Editing program. Known as "Historic Images, New Technologies" (HINT), the project will result in an update to HSP's digital image viewer and an online digital history exhibit to demonstrate the new viewer's capabilities.
In the course of developing the new image viewer, HSP will digitize 500 political cartoons. Users will ultimately be able to search for cartoons on specific topics, analyze individual cartoons in depth, and follow links between cartoons and related contextual material. This image tool will have a lasting effect on HSP's ability to manage and describe its digitized images and will make it easier for the public to access them. The project will also include educational resources for teachers and students, as well as descriptive content that will be shared among the wider digital community. The overall objective is to make archival graphics more accessible for online users and encourage other repositories to adopt the new tools and practices.
The 500 cartoons featured in the project will span American history from the colonial period through the Progressive Era and will represent a wide array of topics and situations. Many of the cartoons will portray well-known public figures like presidents and politicians, while others will depict fictional or generic characters, such as Uncle Sam or figures embodying ethnic stereotypes. Reflecting the evolution of the political cartoon genre, the selected cartoons will encompass a variety of visual styles, ranging from intricate scenes with a great deal of text to stark images with few or no words.
The cartoons will be encoded in XML following Text Encoding Initiative (TEI) P5 guidelines. This will enable project staff to create "zones" of each image that, when clicked on by a user, will display pop-up text containing editorial content and more information about the people, organizations, and events depicted. This encoding will also include Linked Open Data (LOD) relationships, which will enhance the discovery of HSP's images and create more opportunities for sharing data between HSP and other institutions.
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