A few years ago, the museum’s photographic archive was dispersed and not easy to access.  Various handwritten reference books and card sets existed in numerous places.

Today a comprehensive structure exists which makes great use of the computer.  There are dedicated image rooms for storing the image archive items in numbered boxes.  All the photographs, negatives (film, slides, glass plates), postcards have been numbered and scanned.  Well not quite all. As you know, the museum has recently acquired a rather massive amount of negatives and slides. The scans are put onto the computer and hence can now be interrogated without having to spend years searching through boxes.

The file format called jpeg is used for all the images.  I use the word ‘images’ rather than photographs because it is not just photographs.  For example all the postcards are scanned, both front and back, as well as slides and even books of photographs.  Thus the jpeg image can include more than just the photograph.

A simple example is given here where the image numbered pp13408a is shown.


pp13408b, not shown here, is its reverse side, sometimes useful for hand written descriptions.  One can instantly see that it is called Harvesting at Waterson*, photo by A H Evans. Dorchester.  I can find the photographer on Google but no place called Waterson.  Maybe it is Waterson’s farm?  The typed note gives some fascinating information but unfortunately no references.  We cannot find any instance of the mentioned record of the men and oxen names in the museum.  This is why we now include such information in the metadata of the jpeg file where it cannot go astray.  Lots of potential research here: how widespread was the horse influenza outbreak? Did this spur the invention of the steam plough? How many oxen were imported? Has Lord Ilchester’s estate got records of this ‘oxen to replace horses’ event in 1885?

*Likely to be Waterston, Puddletown. The manor there was owned by Lord Ilchester until 1911.