Keywording Historical Images

  • Keywords are indexing terms and very important to find relevant images and cut out irrelevant images in a search. Returning irrelevant images decreases the value to researchers of the whole archive.
  • Repeat names, organisations and significant terms from the caption.
  • Choose keywords that a researcher might use to find such a picture. Include synonyms if relevant e.g. protests and demonstrations are used interchangeably.
  • Concentrate on the main point of the image and use as few keywords as possible in order to focus the search and retrieve the most relevant images. Aim for about five keywords, excluding identified people, but you may need more or less.
  • As far as possible use single words. Separate the keywords (or names or short phrases) with a comma. Don’t put a full stop at the end.  The comma indicates to the search engine that a new term follows.
  • Use the plural form of common nouns as the search engine will find either form if the researcher happens to use the plural. If the plural does not include the singular e.g.

    party / partiesuse the most appropriate.

  • Short phrases such as these are acceptable: trade unions, women’s rights, protest marches, student protests, birthday party, birthday cakes, police barricades, prison warders, prison cells, Ellis Park, red carpets, green flags, T-shirts.
  • Use lower case except where the word usually takes a capital letter (upper case) e.g. proper names, place names, language and nationality names.
  • Include the names of all the people identified. Copy these into the IPTC Extension/Image Description/Person Shown. Separate them with commas.
  • Where an organisation is very much the main subject of the image put the name in full and also the acronym, separated by commas. E.g. Congress of South African Trade Unions, COSATU; Truth and Reconciliation Commission, TRC; South African Communist Party, SACP; Umkhonto weSizwe, MK; Independent Electoral Commission / Electoral Commission of South Africa of South Africa, IEC
  • Honorifics and titles. Include these if it will help the search e.g. President, former President, Mayor, Bishop, Archbishop, Professor. They should be the one in use at the time the image was taken. E.g. Desmond Tutu became Bishop in 1976, Archbishop in 1986 and became Archbishop Emeritus after he retired as Archbishop in 1996. Professors keep their title after retirement. People awarded honorary degrees do not usually add the title to their name e.g.

    Dr,when mentioned in the press etc.  Do not include Mr, Esq, Mrs, Miss and Ms except when the first name or initial is not known. If unsure, leave out the title.

  • Use a racial description, e.g.  Black, Coloured, Mixed Race (use both for researchers in other countries) Indian, Asian, White only if very relevant to the image. E.g. “An Indian family being forcibly removed from Pageview (

    Fietas)”, Johannesburg would need to include the keyword Indian.

  • Apartheid. Use the keyword apartheid for images that clearly show apartheid laws and actions, e.g.
    • Apartheid signs eg on toilets, benches, post offices, liquor stores, railway stations and carriages.
    • Instances of apartheid rules and laws being enforced or flouted e.g. pass raids, pass inspections,

      pass books, evictions, forced removals,

      mixed racecouples, enforcing the immorality act.

    • Protests and demonstrations against apartheid
  • Unusual points of view could be included. You can use keywords like

    aerialview, fish-eye view, and panorama. If these are in the caption it may not be necessary to include them in the keywords.