A New Zealand library has just launched a database with more than 2,500 historical images, as well as cartoons, drawings, posters, watercolors and ephemera.
The photo below is of Manurewa’s creamery, circa 1905 (CREDIT: Manurewa Historical Society).
South Auckland's Manukau Libraries Footprints Archive database is now accessible to researchers around the world, with images detailing everyday life from the 1870s-1990s, and covering a geographic area from Otahuhu down to Papakura and Franklin.
Users of the free database are expected to include everyone from professional historians, family history researchers and even school children.
The Manukau Research Library archives hold some 15,000 images, so the online database is just a sampling, according to research services manager Bruce Ringer.
Some - about 750 - come from a donated collection of 10,000 images from the South Auckland Courier and Manukau Courier newspaper archives (1963-1989). Also contributing have been local photographers, newspaper editors, regional libraries and historical societies.
Without the cooperation of a large number of people and organizations, many images would have been lost forever.
The online collection was selected to highlight people and community life rather than events, places or buildings. Search parameters include date, location, topic or keywords.
Difficult tasks included identifying the photos' dates and locations and describing the image.
The researchers looked for clothing, cars, buildings and activities for clues as to date and location. Some leave them stumped, such as:
...the set of glass negatives taken in Clevedon from 1907 to 1913.
"It's a fantastic set of photos with great clarity but we're not sure who the people are," Mr Ringer says.
"It certainly would be great if the public who see these images can provide further information."
The seven-year digitization project cost NZ$416,000.
Ringer wants to expand the online database and the library photo archives, as well as produce an illustrated regional history. He knows there are thousands of additional photos held by private individuals and organizations and he's hoping people will share those items.
Readers with roots in New Zealand should check out this resource.