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

Why some customers are disappointed

Some customers are disappointed with the results because over time celluloid film deteriorates and nothing can be done to save the images. The cellulose nitrate, cellulose diacetate and tri-acetate within the film are all unstable mediums, and can deteriorate much faster than many photographs or other visual presentations. Cellulose nitrate releases nitric acid which adds to the decomposition. In the final stages the film turns into a rust-like powder giving off a strong odour of vinegar. If the films are stored in damp conditions they can become unwatchable in in the space of a few years, so act now to have your old films digitised by ScanCorner and save these memories to DVD.

Calcutta has launched India’s first municipal archive

More than four centuries of history and evolution of Calcutta will be told by a complete archive full of rare photographs, text, sound recording, manuscripts, maps and digital documents, setup by the local government.  Arun Roy, the director of the monthly magazine puroshree, will manage the digitisation of texts and photographs. This is a 20 million rupees project.

The archive has been named as the Amal Home Digital Archive as a tribute to Amal Home, founder of the Calcutta Municipal Gazette. Most of the contents for this project are provided by this magazine.

The Digital Archives will be the nation’s first data bank which offers insights on the struggle for India’s independence through letters and speeches of personalities like Mahatma Gandhi, Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose and Rabindranath Tagore.  The data explains the society and economy at the time of British rule, the struggle for freedom and other tropical issues in the history of India. The formation of current Calcutta from the villages Sutanuti, Gobindapur and Kolikata which the East India Company has bought, is also found only in this archive. The archive will also include the contributions of researchers, editors and ordinary citizens. People from all over the country have been involved with providing the data to build this archive.


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

The British Library’s Endangered Archives Programme – 4 Million images now available online

British Library has moved over another milestone reaching 4 million images available in their online collection. The three new projects which have driven in achieving this are EAP532, EAP584 and EAP676 which are from Nigeria, India and Nepal.

The first project is EAP532 which preserved and digitised two collections from the Benue valley in Central Nigeria. The CC Jacobs collection is the largest individual archival collection containing the copies of some files that are currently missing from the National Archives, Kaduna. The Otukpo Mission’s collections contains narratives on late nineteenth and early twentieth century anti-slavery efforts of Christian groups and convert people to Christianity, colonization and colonial society. The project created digital archives of approximately 100,000 digital images.

EAP532/1/25/1: Infectious Diseases and Epidemics Control 2 [1953]
EAP532/1/25/1: Infectious Diseases and Epidemics Control 2 [1953]
EAP584 contains digitised collection of palm leaf manuscripts from Kerala, India. 950 palm leaf manuscripts have been digitized in this project, creating approximately 200,000 images. These manuscripts include materials from history, the sciences, mathematics, architecture, philosophy and scripture, most of which are around 300-400 years old and some around 600-700 years old.

EAP584/5/236 Pt 2: Veda [17th century]
EAP584/5/236 Pt 2: Veda [17th century]
EAP676 holds the digitised collection of Buddhist Sanskrit manuscripts owned by Buddhist Temples and Newar Buddhist families in Lalitpur, Nepal, which is the only original source of Mahayana Buddhism. The digitisation of the important and vulnerable texts created around 10,000 images of manuscripts which are now available online.

EAP584/5/236 Pt 2: Veda [17th century]
EAP584/5/236 Pt 2: Veda [17th century]

Digitised collection of American historic currency

Smithsonian Institution announced that they were looking for volunteers to help them digitise their collection thereby giving a chance for the public to interact with these proofs and to unleash the history from the thousands of historical documents.

Under its recent project, rapid capture digitisation project, the institute is working on digitising the currency proofs. The rapid capture technique applied for digitisation has cut the total turnaround time which would otherwise take a year or more. This new collection of currency proofs will lead to new understanding about the history.


bank note proof
Via the Smithsonian Institute

The National Museum of American History has 139 pages of certified currency proofs of the District of Columbia that need to be transcribed. The contents of each proof contains a multitude of information that gives an apt portrait of America from 1863-1935. The notes in the collection were saved at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing until the early ’70s, where they were transferred to the Smithsonian. The Institute’s Division of Numismatics holds about 350,000 proofs of currency, bonds, revenue stamps, checks, commissions, awards, food stamps, and food coupons.”

For this project, transcribers have completed 6,561 pages, each with information about what bank and city the sheet is from, what date the original plate was made, and other numismatic details.

“We have unlocked the ability to do this efficiently and at a price that was unheard of before,” Rahaim adds. “Digitising a whole collection, it was an abstract concept, but these processes are now making that a reality.”

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

Read more..

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)


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: 3D bust