Digitised collection of historical NYPD crime scene photos to be available online

The New York Police Department (NYPD) has photographed crime scenes of traffic accidents, parades, or public events almost since the technology was available. A new grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities will support the digitisation of around 30,000 of these photographs from 1914 to 1975, making them available to the public for the first time. All these photos were stored in boxes after the conclusion of cases and stored away out of sight in a basement.

In 2012, the New York City Municipal Archives released 870,000 pictures online of the total of 2.2 million photographs, videos, audio files, and other material to be made viewable for public.

Some might seem strangely familiar to those taken by the famous well known crime photographer Weegee. For example, a NYPD shot of murder victim Dominick Didato on Elizabeth Street in 1936 focuses on the gun on the pavement and the blood stains on his back, while the more artistically inclined Weegee angled toward the blood splatter seeping from the body. One of the more unassuming photographs, of a murdered girl’s bedroom in the Bronx in 1939, may give you chills: it has an eerie doll posed on the bed. Others show protests at Columbia University in the 1960s and police burning “indecent” books in 1935 at their Manhattan headquarters.

If all goes according to schedule, the prints will be scanned starting in July 2015 and will be made available for viewing shortly afterwards through the Municipal Archives Online Gallery.

A-three-in-one-weapon-obtained-by-police-officers..jpg
A-three-in-one-weapon-obtained-by-police-officers..jpg
 Doll on the bed of Virginia Bender at East 137th Street in the Bronx. It was here where she was found dead from apparent strangulation and stabbing. (June 1939) (courtesy New York City Municipal Archives).jpg

Doll on the bed of Virginia Bender at East 137th Street in the Bronx. It was here where she was found dead from apparent strangulation and stabbing. (June 1939) (courtesy New York City Municipal Archives).jpg

On 150th anniversary of Lincoln’s assassination, massive archive goes online

On 150th anniversary of President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination, a massive online archive is in the works that contains more than 100,000 documents, all documents written by or to Abraham Lincoln during his lifetime. More recently discovered letters and documents are also being added to the digital archive as time passes.

The Papers of Abraham Lincoln, is a project sponsored by The University of Illinois and the Abraham Lincoln Association. Lincoln was assassinated in Ford’ Theater in Washington, D.C. on April 14, 1865.

Data storage vendor Iron Mountain has provided 40TB of online cloud storage for the project, So far, the archive includes more than 67,000 written documents available in image form online where users can browse or search by title and date.

The Papers consist of three types:

Series I: Legal Papers, which cover Lincoln’s time practicing law from 1836 to 1861; The collection encompasses the surviving record of his quarter-century career in the federal, state and county court systems.

Series II: Illinois Papers, which encompass Lincoln’s non-legal life from his birth in February 1809 through March 3, 1861, the day before his inauguration. The papers include personal and political correspondence, political speeches, and all other non-legal materials

Series III: Presidential Papers, which include a massive documentary record of an active president engaged in leading a nation during wartime.

The archive also contains images of some of the most historically significant documents penned by Lincoln, such as one of the five original copies of the Gettysburg Address.

 One of the five extant copies of the Gettysburg Address. Courtesy of the White House Historical Association.jpg

One of the five extant copies of the Gettysburg Address. Courtesy of the White House Historical Association.jpg

The archives also contain documents illustrating a more personal side to the Civil War-era president and his constituency — no matter how old they were such as a letter to 11-year old Grace Bedell on Oct. 19, 1860 who had suggested Lincoln grow a beard because his face was so thin.

Lincoln in 1864
Lincoln in 1864

“President Lincoln’s legacy as a statesman has marked him as one of the most important and influential leaders our country and the world have ever known,” Daniel Stowell, director and editor of The Papers of Abraham Lincoln, stated in a news release. “He was also perhaps the most well-written, and written to, presidents in history, with thousands of personal and political documents, all of which tell the story of our country during one of the most pivotal times in history.”

Photos from: http://www.papersofabrahamlincoln.org/

The first ever scanned Image

The very first digital photograph was a picture of Russel A. Kirch’s three month old son, Walden. This turned out to be the basis for the satellite imaging, CAT scans, bar codes on packaging, desktop publishing, digital photography and other revolutionary developments in image processing technology.

Rusell A. Kirsch was part of the team of National Bureau of standards (NBS) which developed the Standard’s Eastern Automatic Computer (SEAC), U. S.’s first programmable computer, in 1950. This group created a rotating drum scanner which was used for the digital scans in 1957. The first digital scan was of a 5cm x 5cm square photograph of Russell’s son, Walden. It was a black and white picture captured as just 30,976 pixels, a 176 x 176 array. The original picture is in the Portland Art Museum.

In 2003, Life Magazine named the scanned picture of Kirsch’s son as one of “the 100 photographs that changed the world”.

kirsch's son, Walden
kirsch’s son, Walden

Image: NIST Image Gallery

Digitisation of Civil War images

Wisconsin Veterans Museum has started this digitisation project on request for Civil war era photos and documents which is expected to be completed by the end of March 2016. The images will be available on the museum’s website from then on. The project’s purpose is to provide the public an easy way to see the photos and to preserve the fragile images from frequent handling.

The Wisconsin Veteran Museum recently received a $31,000 grant from the Institute of Museum and Library services to digitize the Civil War era photos collection. Digital archivist Duane Rodel is scanning the museum’s collection of more than 2,700 Civil War era images.

The images include daguerreotypes, ambryotyoes, cyanotypes, gemtypes, tintypes, cartes-de-visite, cabinet cards and photo albums picturing Wisconsin soldiers and veterans of Civil War which dates back to 1903 when the Grand Army of the Republic Memorial Hall was founded in Madison, from which evolved the Wisconsin Veterans Museum. Almost all of the photos are studio portraits of which many include the name of the photographer’s studio or tax stamps, which will help to determine where they were taken.

The collection also include the photo of the mascot of the 8th Wisconsin infantry. The eagle pecked the colour print with her beak leaving a V-shaped scar. On the back is written – this is Abe’s autograph.

Credit: Old Abe Collection, Wisconsin Veterans Museum
Credit: Old Abe Collection, Wisconsin Veterans Museum

The museum officials would like to digitise photos from every conflict since the Civil War, including 6,000 colour photos which portraits the evolution of photography with the evolution of technology.

Edward R. Blake holds the battle-damaged flag of the 24th Wisconsin Infantry Regiment is in this carte-de-visits photograph taken shortly after the Civil War.MARK HOFFMAN
Edward R. Blake holds the battle-damaged flag of the 24th Wisconsin Infantry Regiment is in this carte-de-visits photograph taken shortly after the Civil War.MARK HOFFMAN

Undeveloped 31 rolls of film shot by an American WWII Soldier discovered and restored

Over 70 years ago during WWII, an unknown soldier captured 31 rolls of film throughout his service. These were recently discovered by photographer Levi Bettweiser, the man who founded the Rescued Film Project. Bettweiser works with the Rescued Film Project, an online archive gallery of images that were captured on film between the 1930’s and late 1990’s. Each image in their archive was rescued from found film from locations all over the world, and came to them in the form of undeveloped rolls of film.

Bettweiser discovered a lot of 31 undeveloped film rolls dating back to WWII with labels Boston harbor, La Havre Harbor, Lucky Strike Camp and various location names, at an auction in Ohio.

When Bettweiser originally encountered the 31 rolls of films, they were enclosed in a plastic bag. He says that although many of the rolls were too damaged to develop, the majority of them resulted in wonderful images. In several different shots, a single unidentified soldier appears and he suspects that this may be the photographer who lent his camera to others to get the shots of himself.

In an Interview, Levi reveals, “The rescued WWII film is truly unique from anything else we’ve rescued so far, which currently is over 5,500 images and counting. I think the fact that these images are documenting a large historical event that impacted so many people really creates a sense of intrigue with anyone viewing them.”

Rescued Photo Film Project WWII
Rescued Photo Film Project WWII
Rescued Photo Film Project WWII
Rescued Photo Film Project WWII
Rescued Photo Film Project WWII
Rescued Photo Film Project WWII

Check out more photos at: The Rescued Film Project

41 million wills made available online

British wills dating back to 1858 are now available online which can be accessed by people who want to know the history of their family and carry out research. The wills of the famous and most influential figures of the 19th and 20th century include wills of Charles Dickens, Winston Churchill, Alan Turing.

HM Courts and Tribunals Service (HMTS) and storage and information management company Iron Mountain, has taken up this unique initiative giving the public a chance to get closer to their family history. People can request for a particular will and an electronic copy of it is received in 10 working days.

Court’s Minister Shailesh Vara said, “ This fascinating project provides us with insights into the ordinary and extraordinary people who helped shape this country, and the rest of the world.”

The first stage of the archives available in 2013 was the wills of the soldiers which had 2 million searches followed by the latest stage.

Though the archives have been converted into digital format, the original paper records will still be kept in a temperature controlled environment.

Alan Turing - Will
Alan Turing left a short will with instructions to share his possessions between his colleagues and his mother

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Digitised collection of First World War soldiers’ files

Knowing the military history of a family in detail used to be difficult, but now we have access to the collection of the records of the soldiers of the First World War which includes a vast collection of letters, diaries, maps and photographs as the files go digital.

Library and Archives Canada holds the digitised records of the soldiers from the First World War making it possible for anyone to unearth the history. With the basic information and right approach one can easily track the history of their ancestors who served in the military or in any of the wars.

Canada’s National Archives site has the names and personal files of all Canadian soldiers from both the world wars which serves as a link to those interested in finding the military roots in their family tree. A lot of information that was not known earlier is now available. The documents range from service records, images, interesting personal and service related information. Things are getting simpler with so much of information online and as time goes on more resources will make its way.

Canadian soldiers on leave in Paris, 1945
Canadian soldiers on leave in Paris, 1945(Courtesy Historica-Dominion Institute)

(Source: http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/ww-i-soldiers-files-being-digitized-by-library-and-archives-canada-1.2879590)

Obama’s 3D printed bust by the Smithsonian

For centuries, artists have used different technologies to create statues of the legends. The Smithsonian Institution in collaboration with the University of Southern California’s Institute for Creative technologies has taken up the project of the first Presidential 3D portrait by the latest technology, 3D printing.

The aim of the Smithsonian’s was to make a life mask and a full bust of the President. There was Mobile Stage Setup with 8 high-end DSLRs and 50 light sources. These cameras captured a total of 80 photographs during facial scan, all in single second. As the President sat still, he was scanned with two hand-held scanners. All this process took over 7 minutes.

The light stage and scanned data was combined and processed in Autodesk and within 72 hours print-ready files for an Obama bust and a life mask was yielded. From this, came to life, the 3D bust of the President through a 3D printer.

The portraits were previously displayed at the White House maker Faire June 18. It is now in Smithsonian’s Castle Commons gallery for view.

For more information: http://www.think3d.in/barack-obamas-official-3d-printed-bust/Obama 3D bust

Jennifer In Paradise – The World’s First Photoshopped Image

It was in the year 1987 that John Knoll, one of the creators of the original Adobe Photoshop, went on a vacation with his girl friend to Bora Bora. He took the picture of his girl friend, Jennifer on the beach, gazing out at To’opua Island. He called the photograph “Jennifer in Paradise”. Shortly after he took the snap, he proposed her.

Later, as Knoll was working on Pixar Image Computer, he felt that it was very expensive and complex. So John suggested some features to be added to the new software capable of manipulating images that his brother was working on. Once the software was developed they needed digital images to demonstrate it and Knoll ended up using the only picture of his wife that he had at that time, “Jennifer in Paradise”.

This is how Jennifer in Paradise became the first colour photograph used to demonstrate what they are now calling Photoshop. From then on John would use the same image when showing off his software.

For the 20th anniversary of Photoshop in 2010, Adobe made a video of John Knoll working with “Jennifer in Paradise” on Photoshop 1.0.7. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tda7jCwvSzg)

(Via: http://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/photography-blog/2014/jun/13/photoshop-first-image-jennifer-in-paradise-photography-artefact-knoll-dullaart)Jennifer in Paradise.tif – the first photoshopped picture