Metadata for Images: Metadata Research

 Research for Metadata Capture for the ANC Archive

Bearing in mind your research time is limited and related to the number of images from a single event that needs to be researched, the first port of call for research is to actually use the ANC Archive Research Site itself. After all, you are adding metadata to enhance this archive. On the site itself, you can often gain the context of the images you are looking at. You can do this by being able to look at the whole container (BOX or ALBUM) or sub-container (FLR – folder or SHT – sheet) you are dealing with. Sometimes the same event will overflow from one folder to another. So you can get an overview of all the images associated with any particular event which is enormously helpful in being able to piece together what is going on and the sequence of activities.

The ANC Archive research site can be accessed on two different URLs at present simply because Africa Media Online are currently switching from their MEMAT 3 digital repository system to their MEMAT 4 system. I am going to show you below how you would work in both of them because at some point the MEMAT 3 will no longer be available. The challenge with the MEMAT 4 system is that it is currently slower than the MEMAT 3 system but that will change over time as we get the system bedded down and can start to optimise it.

Research on MEMAT 3

The ANC Archive Research Site can be accessed on the MEMAT 3 system here:

The entry page will look like this:

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Let’s say that you are working on a group of images that seem to be related to Mandela’s visit to Zimbabwe. You might start by searching for “Zimbabwe” and you would get results like this:

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Because there are more manuscripts being returned for this particular search, the system by default is presenting the manuscripts. You can see the manuscripts tab is selected at the top. You, however, do not want to work with manuscripts, you want images. So you need to click on the Photographs tab like this:

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Then you need to scroll down to images that look like they are the images that you have been assigned to work on in the MEMAT Metadata App. So perhaps these are them:

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Now what you want to do is find all the images in a single box or album. To do that you need to click on one familiar image and you will see this:

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Notice below the image there is what we call a folder path that reflects the physical archive. In this case it looks like this: ANC / Prints / Nelson Mandela Papers / Photographs Album / Raw / ALBUM048

What that means is that this item is in the ANC Archive. It is a photographic print. It is in the Nelson Mandela Papers collection and in the Photographs Album series. It is also a Raw image as it was when it came off the capture device (which is why it is on its side) and it is in album 48.

Note: You will see some images are in a Processed folder and some in a Raw folder. Images that are in a Raw folder are images that have not been processed digitally. They are simply as they are when they came off the capture device. Early on in this project that capture device was a scanner. Then what was done in that early phase was to select out a number of files from many of the Raw folders and process them digitally, rotating them, cropping them and often doing colour correction and retouching to produce a publishing quality file. So often the same album or folder, for instance, may have a few files in a Processed folder and the rest of the files in the Raw folder. And sometimes there will be the Raw version of the same image and the Processed version of the same image. If that is the case the same metadata should be filled into both versions of the image. It also means that when you are working on material you need to make sure that both the Raw digital folder and the Processed digital folder of the same album or physical folder has been assigned to you so you don’t have a partial picture of the whole event that you are working on. The administrators know to do this, but just in case you come up against gaps when you compare what you are seeing on the ANC Archive Research Site, this may be the reason.

Okay, getting back to the research process, if I want to see everything in ALBUM048 I need to search using the folder path. That means starting with the image preview where the folder path is displayed. I then highlight the whole folder path and copy and past that into the search like this: ANC / Prints / Nelson Mandela Papers / Photographs Album / Raw / ALBUM048

And then I am going to do two things:

Firstly I am going to write “path:” in front of that folder path like this:

path:ANC / Prints / Nelson Mandela Papers / Photographs Album / Raw / ALBUM048

Secondly, I am going to remove the spaces between the letters and the backslashes leaving the gaps between words within a phrase like this:

path:ANC/Prints/Nelson Mandela Papers/Photographs Album/Raw/ALBUM048

I then copy and paste that into the search box on the site it gives me a view of all the files in that folder like this:

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Now you may have noticed in that folder path that there is the word “Raw”. What that means is that you are only looking at Raw images for ALBUM048. If there are also processed images in ALBUM048 you would need to replace the word “Raw” with “Processed.” Now ALBUM048 actually has only Raw images, but here is an example of a folder that has both Raw and Processed images:

The Processed:

path:ANC/Prints/Nelson Mandela Papers/Photographs Album/Processed/ALBUM007

And the Raw:

path:ANC/Prints/Nelson Mandela Papers/Photographs Album/Raw/ALBUM007

Try searching by both of those folder paths in and see the difference.

Research on MEMAT 4

Apart from the current sluggishness of the system, research on MEMAT 4 is a little easier.  Taking the same example, let’s search for Zimbabwe:

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And we get these results:

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Scroll down to images you recognise and then click on a single image you know you are working with on the MEMAT Metadata App.

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If I run my mouse over the folder path you will notice the elements of the path are clickable. So I want to click on ALBUM048 and when I run my mouse over it you will see it changes colour like this:

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Then when I click on that, MEMAT 4 will automatically search by that whole string giving this result:

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You can see the search term at the top. If I wanted to check if there were any processed images in that folder I would simply copy and paste the folder path into the search box and replace “Raw” in the path with “Processed in the path. In this case, we know there are no processed images. Alternatively, I could simply search for the name of the album e.g. ALBUM048 to get all images from that album, both raw and processed.

Other Useful Research Resources

Other useful resources for research include:

South African History Online

South African History Archive

Getty Images Editorial

The Associated Press