George Eastman House turns to crowdsourcing for photo ids

Lewis Hine: 1930 Empire State Building Construction worker touching the top of the Chrysler building

What do you do when you almost 400,000 images that need more information? Turn to the wisdom of the crowds. George Eastman House International Museum of Photography and Film, in Rochester, N.Y., was founded in 1947 on the George Eastman Estate and has that precise problem. Eastman House turned to San  Francisco, Calif.-based Clickworker to kick-off of a large-scale rowdsourcing project to photo-tag and catalog more than 400,000 images.

Utilizing Clickworker’s crowdsourcing technology, George Eastman House is able to bring archives into the digital age, making them easily accessible to the public — in many instances — for the very first time. To meet the needs of this expansive project, Clickworker leverages its global crowd of more than 115,000 to efficiently tag and catalog the museum’s vast collection of images from around the world.

“Clickworker is excited to help the renowned George Eastman House archive world art and history in our latest corporate responsibility project,” says Wolfgang Kitza, CEO, Clickworker. “It’s not just one country or one cause – but we’re actually helping archive the world. The collection offers the most intimate look at the pioneers of photography and their art. It is truly a perfect partnership to showcase our international and multifaceted services. And as a result, the world will have an accessible visual library.”

George Eastman House holds unparalleled collections of nearly half-a-million photographs from 9,000 photographers. These significant photo archives span from daguerreotypes to digital photographs, including such unique artist collections such as Southworth & Hawes, Lewis Hine, and Edward Steichen.

Anthony Bannon

Anthony Bannon

“Our partnership with Clickworker enables us to make our photographs searchable and ultimately make our collections more accessible to the world,” says Dr. Anthony Bannon, the Ron and Donna Fielding Director, George Eastman House. “Clickworker not only provides professional insight into the subject matter of our images, but also the option of crowdsourcing in several languages, which is ideal for our internationally focused collections.”

Included among the newly-tagged photo collections are original daguerreotypes from 19th century America (Southworth & Hawes); images of Lincoln assassination conspirators (Alexander Gardner); photographs of new immigrants to American soil and construction and labor-themed images, including the evolution of the Empire State Building (Lewis Wickes Hines); and celebrity portraits of Marilyn Monroe, Judy Garland and Frida Kahlo (Nickolas Muray, a former lover of Kahlo’s).