2023 Slide Digitisation Scheme


2023 Slide Digitisation Scheme
The 2023 Slide Digitisation Scheme rapidly repackaged, catalogued, and digitised the York Archaeological Trust photographic slide collection. Photographic slides—or diapositives—were created by YAT for approximately thirty years from its inception in 1972 to the early 2000's. These slides were used to record and communicate the archaeological, museological, and community activities of the trust. The collection contains 57,460 slides, though more are discovered as the Archive continues to be catalogued.

The Scheme spanned over a nine month period which included three months of trialing, scoping, and budgeting and six months of rapid decanting, cataloging, and digitisation. The project team was able to maintain a processing pace of 10,000 slides per month, or an average of 445 per day.

Prior to the Digitisation Scheme, the slides were stored in non-archival, plastic hanging sleeves filling more than 30 filing cabinet drawers. The sleeves were usually individually marked with metadata such as the year, site code, attraction (e.g. "JORVIK Viking Centre"), or category of images (e.g. "People at Work" or "Small Finds"). The first part of the Digitisation Scheme workflow was decanting the slides from their sleeves and repackaging them into archival-grade slide storage boxes. The original, found order was maintained by separating sets of slides with printed deposit cards. These deposit cards recorded the container-level metadata including the name of the file drawer and any writing on the original sleeve. Once an archival box was filled, the slides within were sequentially numbered with an asset identification sticker. These stickers identified the owner of the resource (YAT), the type of resource being catalogued (slide), and the individual number assigned to that resource: e.g. "YAT-S-000001". The decanting, reboxing, and labelling was primarily completed by a corps of 12 volunteers who, over six months, contributed 360 hours of their time in 128 volunteering sessions.

Once boxed and labelled, the known metadata for each slide—recorded on the deposit cards—were entered verbatim onto a digital spreadsheet. Over time, a controlled vocabulary of subjects was developed to supercede the raw, verbatim values. In this way similar, yet inexact values such as "JVC", "JORVIK", and "Viking Centre" would fall under a singular normalised subject heading: Jorvik Viking Centre".

Once the slides were labelled and their metadata was indexed they were ready for photography. Each slide was mounted onto a custom-designed, 3D printed holder laid on top of a flourescent light box. A camera mounted above captured a single digital photograph for every slide. These digital images were designed to be 'record shots' of the entire slide and including the slide's image and the writing on the slide housing, which often contains important descriptions, site codes, and dates. The output filename for each digital photograph matched the sequential 'S' identification number of the slide being photographed, meaning that a complete, one-to-one digital copy of the entire collection was created.

By having (1) identification numbers assigned to each slide in the collection, (2) a spreadsheet matching those identification numbers with normalised subject metadata, and (3) digital images of every slide, the collection could then be uploaded into a collections management system, Omeka S in this case.

The 2023 Slide Digitisation Scheme resulted in the following outcomes: (1) the collection has become more accessible as it may now be digitally and remotely examined, (2) the collection as a whole may be more easily researched as slides have been grouped together under normalised subject headings associated with YAT excavations, attractions, and activities, and (3) the physical collection of slides is more compact, stable, and mobile.
November 2022 – July 2023
Benjamin Bowles
Ellie Drew
Giulia Gallio
Georgia Radka
Christine McDonnell
Louis Carter
Catherine Reagan (Volunteer)
Michael Boyton (Volunteer)
Jessica Burchett (Volunteer)
Alistair Gray (Volunteer)
Abbie Evans (Volunteer)
Hannah Curtis (Volunteer)
Gaenor Ruddall (Volunteer)
Yuxuan Xiao (Volunteer)
Dina Teppin (Volunteer)
Amy Baker (Volunteer)
Abigayle Edler (Volunteer)
Shikha Doctor (Volunteer)

Linked resources

Items with "Publisher: 2023 Slide Digitisation Scheme"
Title Class
Slide 000001 Physical Object
Slide 000002 Physical Object
Slide 000003 Physical Object
Slide 000004 Physical Object
Slide 000005 Physical Object
Slide 000006 Physical Object
Slide 000007 Physical Object
Slide 000008 Physical Object
Slide 000009 Physical Object
Slide 000010 Physical Object
Slide 000011 Physical Object
Slide 000012 Physical Object
Slide 000013 Physical Object
Slide 000014 Physical Object
Slide 000015 Physical Object
Slide 000016 Physical Object
Slide 000017 Physical Object
Slide 000018 Physical Object
Slide 000019 Physical Object
Slide 000020 Physical Object
Slide 000021 Physical Object
Slide 000022 Physical Object
Slide 000023 Physical Object
Slide 000024 Physical Object
Slide 000025 Physical Object