A photograph may be worth a thousand words, but only if you can find it.
What makes the Golden History Museum’s new Historic Photography Collection online archive project so exciting is that it will find a thousand photographs with only a word, a keyword that is.
A group of about six volunteers, working with Golden Museums’ curator Mark Dodge and a part-time assistant, have been painstakingly cataloguing every photo in the museum’s collection, scanning them in, and entering the details about each into an electronic database, which will go online Saturday, Oct. 13.
The museum receives at least one request a week to use the photograph collection, according to museum staff, usually involving a painstaking process of flipping through multiple binders and card catalogues in search of the right image.
The photo collection is about to get a lot more accessible.
A Golden resident for 49 years, museum volunteer Gene Child spends hours every week to preserve pieces of his city’s history that go back even further than his own memories. He works on assembling photo details in preparation for them to be scanned into the database.
“And here we write a detailed description,” Child said, pointing to a blank section of a sheet of paper that has a faded photograph attached to it. All the information that volunteers compile is entered into the database, providing a deep resource for anyone interested in the city’s history.
“There were 1,000 original photos, and we’ve acquired about 1,000 more,” Golden Museums’ Director Nathan Richie said.
According to Richie, persistent rumors implied that not all of the Pioneer Museum collection had made the transition into the Golden Museums system. Richie said when Child discovered a mislabeled box filled with binders of photos from the old museum about 18 months ago, it helped jump-start the effort to get the museum’s entire photographic collection online, to better share it with the public.
The entire collection, ranging from the 1850s mining camps to contemporary shots of President Obama’s visit, are all searchable by date, subject or keyword. The website will allow the public to order prints of their favorite photos or contact the museum if they have information to add, or occasionally correct, about the photo description.
The database will be accessible at GoldenHistory.org/photos.
Looking through the range of shots, Richie said certain landmarks, such as Castle Rock, seem to have had iconic status for years, which has been photographed from countless vantage points.
“It’s neat to see that feature, pulled through time,” Richie said.
The museum will not stop at 2,000 photos. Richie said more donations come in constantly, and will be added as soon as his staff can get to them.
The website will be accessible to the public beginning Oct. 13, the same day as a fundraising event called the Black and White Night, which will celebrate the project’s progress.
“All proceeds benefit the care and upkeep of the collection,” Richie said.
Part of the festivities on Black and White Night will be the opportunity for partygoers to bring in their own photos to be scanned for inclusion in the collection.
“We’ll send them home with a hi-res scan of their photos too,” Richie said.