Struggling to keep your research photos organized?

By Marcel Oosterwijk from Amsterdam, The Netherlands (Old celluloid film rolls Uploaded by MGA73) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

One of the most unexpected challenges of doing archival research today is keeping track of all of those digital photos taken in the reading room. Where do you keep them? (iPhoto? Lightroom?) How are they named? (Hopefully something more memorable than IMG2046.jpg or Box1.jpg.) Wouldn’t it be great to have something built specifically for scholars that could easily attach relevant information to the image, while keeping the photos organized and integrated into your research workflow?

Last month, the Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media (RRCHNM) at George Mason University—the same group that brought us Zotero for citation management—announced a new project to develop software that will help researchers manage their digital images. Tropy, as the tool will be called, is being designed by researchers, for researchers.

Tropy will ultimately let you import photographs, adjust them to ensure they are of adequate quality for your purposes, and attach metadata to those images, using a template. After import, you will also be able to batch-edit the metadata across multiple images, as well as edit individual images. In Tropy, images will be able to be organized via collections and/or tags, and accessed in a variety of ways: by browsing image collections and tags via list and thumbnail modes; by sorting these views using all available metadata, such as date, source archive, and title; and by searching across all available metadata, including notes.

Sound interesting? Help make Tropy the research tool you need by completing a short survey of user requirements.

And in the meantime, take a look at this Storify of responses to the question, How are you managing large collections of images for research? for ideas to implement now, while we wait for Tropy!

About the Author

Roxanne Shirazi is the Dissertation Research Librarian at the Graduate Center Library.