As digitization standards have evolved throughout the years, NARA has worked to keep up with best practices. However, despite our efforts to stay ahead of the curve, there are still photographs in our Catalog that were digitized many years ago and don’t necessarily meet the requirements to be considered “high resolution.” Specifically, researchers are likely to come across GIF (Graphics Interchange Format) files, which is more or less an outdated format in terms of digitization. While we are currently working to replace GIF files in our Catalog, in the meantime, researchers may be able to obtain higher resolution JPG/JPEG (Joint Photographic Experts Group) and TIF/TIFF (Tag Image File Format) versions by searching Wikimedia Commons. The following is a step-by-step guide on how to find JPG and TIF files when the only version available in our Catalog is a GIF.*
GIF version of 412-DA-731 (Santa Cruz, CA in May 1972, Photographer: Dick Rowan)
JPG version of 412-DA-731 (Santa Cruz, CA in May 1972, Photographer: Dick Rowan)
NARA staff have been working to add higher resolution versions to series that were originally uploaded as GIFs, so there are some instances where there are multiple file types available to download from our Catalog. In instances where a GIF and a JPG exist, but there is no TIF version, it is worth searching Wikimedia Commons to see if a TIF is available. The following is an example of that scenario.
*Please be aware that these instructions only apply to older digitization project in which GIFs were the original files uploaded to the Catalog.
A version of this post was originally published on the National Archives' Unwritten Record blog. The Unwritten Record is dedicated to highlighting special media holdings at NARA. Check it out!
The Catalog Newsletter
The National Archives recently launched a new pathway to view and explore our records: the Record Group Explorer. This data visualization allows you to browse NARA’s holdings by Record Group. You can use it to get a sense of the scale and organization of records at the National Archives and to explore what is available online via the National Archives Catalog.
We now invite you to give the Record Group Explorer a try while contributing as a citizen archivist. To celebrate the launch of the Record Group Explorer, we’ve created special missions for each Record Group. Our first set of missions invite you to help tag and transcribe Records from the U.S. Secret Service and the Records of the Government of the District of Columbia. We’ll feature additional Record Groups for future missions.
Each of your contributions to these records will help unlock history and make them easier to find in our Catalog for other users.
Have questions about the Record Group Explorer? Ask questions and contribute to the conversation here on History Hub. We’d also love to hear your input on how this new tool might be beneficial to you in your research, and your ideas about how we could further refine this data visualization for future projects.
The data powering the Record Group Explorer will be updated monthly, so check back to see what we have added and what changes have been made.
As part of our World War I commemoration, we recently invited the public to help transcribe written accounts of World War I soldiers and their first experiences in battles. This series contains remarkable and moving accounts of war through unit histories, station lists, operations reports, messages, and more.
Of the 2,409 records in the series, 6,652 pages were transcribed by our citizen volunteers. We were especially moved by the descriptions of the battlefield by the soldiers who experienced the war first hand, and wanted to find a way to capture their experiences.
Now that the transcriptions are nearly complete, we are excited to share how this work transcribing has unlocked the stories within these records, and ensured these soldier’s voices are heard.
By performing a "search within" these records in the Catalog, we can now search for events, battlefield conditions, or even emotions that soldiers wrote about within their accounts. For example:
The word “artillery” can be found in 523 records in this series
“About 4 PM we moved forward to canal under heavy artillery and machine gun fire. Were relieved next morning.”
Transcribed by citizen archivist Ndlund
The word “afraid” can be found in 23 records in this series
“I was afraid that we would never reach our objective with one man alive but we only had 4 killed and two wounded all it takes is nerve”
Transcribed by citizen archivist LibrarianDiva
Ready to give it a try? Here’s how to search within a series:
From the Details section of the series description in the Catalog, click on the blue box: “Search within this series”
In the top left search box, remove the wildcard symbols *.* and replace it with the word you would like to search.:
Click on the magnifying glass or press “enter” on your keyboard to start your search. See your results!
Give it a try, and let us know what you find within these records! You could try searching for “trench,” or “Verdun,” or even “pigeon.” Have you discovered something interesting or unexpected? How else could you use this feature in you research?
There are a few more records in this series that can still be transcribed! Help us finish up these last few records to make these stirring accounts fully accessible. Get Started Transcribing!
You did it! During last week’s Citizen Archivist Week of Service, more than 430 citizen archivists helped tag and transcribe more than 3,500 pages! Thanks to all of you for helping us reach (and surpass) our goal.
Didn’t get a chance to participate last week? Not to worry. Our Citizen Archivist Dashboard is updated regularly with new missions and featured records to tag and transcribe. Check back often to see what’s new, and keep up the great work!
As Thanksgiving approaches, we have much to be thankful for here at the National Archives. We are especially grateful for the records we hold in trust, and for our Catalog that allows us to share these records with you. We are also thankful for our colleagues, who inspired us with this idea to create a Thanksgiving meal through our records!
As you gather around the table this holiday season, we hope you find inspiration from these historic recipes and photographs found in the National Archives. Enjoy!
Appetizers are a great way to welcome your guests. We recommend Rosalynn Carter’s Plains Special Cheese Ring Recipe. (Trust us, it is delicious!)
Be sure to offer a toast to your special guests!
Need a side dish? The Republican Congressional Cook Book, ca. 1962 is filled with recipes that would be perfect for your Thanksgiving table. Why don’t you try the Georgia Sweet Potato Souffle?
Save room for dessert! You’re sure to please everyone with this selection of pies.
But if you only have time to make one, we recommend Nancy Reagan’s Pumpkin Pecan Pie recipe.
Did you find this interesting? Discover more like this when you sign up for our Catalog newsletter! Twice a month we feature new and interesting records from the Catalog, research tips, transcription missions, and more.
At the National Archives, we are committed to making the citizen archivist program a great experience for our virtual volunteers. That’s why today we are introducing our new Resources page on our Citizen Archivist Dashboard. Whether you are a new transcriber, or looking for ways to become more involved, our resource page is designed to provide helpful information, tips and tricks, instructional videos and more.
We created this resource page based on feedback and frequently asked questions we receive from our citizen archivists, and we hope you find it useful.
Check it out and let us know what you think! Do you have ideas for further instructional videos? What else would you like to see on our Dashboard? Let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org
Looking for some transcription work to do?
We have a group of really easy records to transcribe and we'd love your help.
Help us transcribe index cards of Naturalization Records. These index cards have just a few lines of text on them and they are addictive - we bet you can't do just one.
New to Transcription for the National Archives? Learn how to get started.
Get started transcribing Indexes to Naturalization Records.
Last week we celebrated Public Service Recognition Week with our annual Archivist’s Achievement Awards ceremony. This event provides the opportunity to recognize volunteers and staff of the National Archives for their passion and dedication to serving the mission of the National Archives and the American people. This year, we were proud to present a special award to one of our most dedicated and enthusiastic Citizen Archivists: Alex Smith.
Archivist of the United States, David Ferriero (center), presents Alex Smith (right) with the Citizen Archivist Award at the 2017 Archivist’s Achievement Awards Ceremony. Photo by Jeff Reed.
National Archives Catalog Community Managers Suzanne Isaacs (left) and Meredith Doviak (right) with Alex Smith. Mr. Smith is holding a 19th century example of a wooden box used for the storage of records.
Alex shared, “If it weren't for the Archives, I'd be having a much duller time, so I really am grateful for the imaginative ways you have allowed us civilians to take part in your extraordinary work.”
We consider ourselves the lucky ones to have such dedicated volunteers. Will you join us as a Citizen Archivist?
Research at the National Archives
Tagging in the National Archives Online Catalog
Did you know that, as a fellow researcher, you can help enrich our catalog by tagging and adding transcriptions to make the National Archives records more easily found online? By adding keywords, terms, and labels to a record, you will help to make the contents of NARA’s online catalog richer and more discoverable. More information tagged to historical documents, electronic records, photographs, and other records helps to makes them easier to find for the next person who may need the information.
What’s a good tag? Any keywords or labels that are meaningful to you, as well as names you find in the record. Simply type what you see. You can say whatever you wish to say in a tag if it conforms with NARA's Tagging Policy.
To get started with your valuable contributions, create a user name and password in the National Archives Catalog and login to the system.
You can start a tagging mission by adding tag details and features in selected categories of photographs. Or create your own tagging mission task by doing a keyword search in the catalog for your favorite topics. For example, typing the keyword "Abraham Lincoln” and selecting "President Abraham Lincoln's Pardon of Charles Boland" from the generated list, will open the historical document. It also shows that this document has some blue ribbons tags as an indication of user tagging contributions to this document. You can check their tags, add more tags to the same document, or search and select another record that has not been tagged before. You can review some Tagging Tips as well as Tagging NARA Catalog Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs).
For additional information about tagging records see our National Archives Catalog newsletter.
Tagging in Flickr
You can also help tag National Archives images in Flickr. With every tag you add to the image, you help the next person discover that record/image.
Explore our nation's past with ourhttp://www.flickr.com/photos/usnationalarchives/National Archives' Photostream on the Flickr Commons. Please share your knowledge, insights, and experience by adding tags, notes, and comments. We also encourage you to clarify and correct information in our descriptions through your comments. To get started, simply create an account in Flickr.
Any tagging method you select to contribute will help make the records of the National Archives more discoverable, accessible, and understandable. All contributions will be greatly valued.