Digitalising Historical Aerial Photographs
Challenges of a source between photography and cartography
Project Leader: PD Dr. Christian Lotz
Project Staff: Dariusz Gierczak M.A.
Funding: Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung im Rahmen der Förderung von Forschungs- und Entwicklungsvorhaben zur Digitalisierung von Objekten des kulturellen Erbes – eHeritage
Duration: 02/2017 – 10/2017
Aerial photographs provide excellent source material for a number of historical subdisciplines ranging from environmental history to economic history and the history of knowledge and cartography. The Herder Institute has in its possession around 8,000 aerial photographs of Central and East Central Europe from the 1940s. A comprehensive design phase is necessary in order to digitalise the collection in such a way as to allow enhanced access to the in-depth information it contains. The process must be particularly detailed and thorough due to the wide range of inquiries made by researchers working in the historical subdisciplines and, also, due to the nature of the source itself, as an “in-between form” between the photograph and the map. For this reason, we need to consider carefully the standards of image sources and map sources when gathering and recording our meta data. Ultimately, the digitalisation concept that has been developed from the Herder Institute’s map collection will continue to serve, not just as a tool for preparing the Institute’s own holdings for digitalisation, but also – based on present standards – as an aid for our ongoing discussions on, for example, the potential and challenges of making other (similar) collections digitally accessible.