About the Database
The construction of the database began on January 18, 1999 and was funded by a National Leadership Grant from the Institute for Museum and Library Services.
At present, the database is served from a Macintosh G3 running FilemakerPro 5.1.
A note about viewing the images:
Image quality is optimized for viewing on a 17-inch monitor that supports the display of 24-bit color. The quality of the images varies dramatically from monitor to monitor. If, as you are viewing the database, images appear too dark, too light, heavily pixelated or grainy, please try viewing them on a different monitor before you report them as a problem.
The collection contains three kinds of photographic images:
- Nitrate film negatives in two sizes (4 x 6 and 2.5 x 3.5)
- Glass lantern slides
- Photographic prints for which original negatives do not exist.
Nitrate film negatives
Images were captured directly from the original nitrate film negatives (emulsion side up) using the project’s two Epson flat bed scanners equipped with transparency units. The images were captured in full color at a resolution of 3072 X 2320 pixels (approximately 600 dpi) and saved as TIFFs. The resulting 8-24 MB TIFFs were written to gold-based recordable CDs. The images on CD were then batch-processed using Adobe Photoshop 5.0 to invert the images from negative to positive and to convert from RGB color to grayscale. The image files were reduced to 55% of their original size, resulting in images with pixel dimensions of about 1700 X 1000 and file sizes of approximately 800 to 1100K. The images were saved in JPEG format, using maximum quality and minimum data loss settings. Each image was then opened in Adobe Photoshop 5.0. and the “Adjust Levels” tool was used to adjust brightness, darkness and contrast on each image. The images were re-saved.
These large JPEGS were then batch-processed using Debabelizer to produce two smaller sets of presentation images. The first batch process created medium sized JPEGs. In this batch, we reduced the large JPEG images to a standard dimension of 750 pixels, either in height or width, depending on which value was greater. This batch resulted in images with file sizes between 200 and 300K. These images were then saved in JPEG format, using maximum quality and minimum data loss settings.
The second Debabelizer batch job reduced the medium JPEG images to a standard dimension of 250 pixels either in height or width, depending on which value was greater. The file size for the small JPEGs ranged from 25 to 35K. These new thumbnail images were saved as JPEG images, using maximum quality and minimum data loss settings.
Images were captured from the glass lantern slides at 3072 X 2320 pixels (approximately 600 dpi) using a Kontron Ultra High Resolution Digital Color Camera, model ProgRes 3012 and saved as TIFFs. The resulting 8-24 MB TIFFs were written to recordable CD. The images on CD were then batch-processed using Adobe Photoshop 5.0 to convert from RGB color to grayscale. The images were reduced to 300 dpi, the to 55% of their original size, resulting in images with pixel dimensions of approximately 1000 x 1700 and a file sizes approximately 1200K. The medium and small JPEGs were produced using the same batch processes as the nitrate negatives.
Photographic prints for which original negatives do not exist
Images were captured for the original photographic prints using the project’s two Epson flat bed scanners. JPEGs were produced using the same batch processes as the nitrate negatives.
All of the sets of images are stored on one of the Library’s IBM RS-6000 servers.
Image Categories & Numbering
Davis’ own card catalog (see below) categorized his images by geographic area. These categories are labeled in the database with specific negative numbers. For instance:
- Southeastern U.S. images range from negative numbers: 0001-3248
- Unidentified images range from: 5000-5177
- Miscellaneous images, lacking negatives range from: 6000-
- Lantern slides range from: L1151-L1374
- African images range from: AA01-BJ18
- Middle Eastern and European images range from: BE01-CJ16
- Personal and family images range from: EA01-GM03
- Unidentified lantern slides range from: HA-HS
The textual data is derived from Jackson Davis’ card catalog system for the years 1910 through the late1930’s. The information on the index cards is arranged alphabetically by subject, and also numerically by the numbers he assigned to his negatives. The index card generally includes the negative number, the state and county in which the picture was taken, and the name of the school, and, occasionally, the date. Mr. Davis sometimes also recorded additional descriptive information about the image of the photograph. Additional information was found on the back of the photographic prints removed from his personal papers. The information recorded on the cards is not necessarily correct in regards to the subject of the photograph. As of February 2000, the descriptive information for Virginia has been reviewed and verified; descriptive information for other states has not been verified All of the information in the database was entered exactly as Jackson Davis wrote it and has not been edited in any way.
Davis used several topical categories on his cards:
- African-American images
- School images
- African, Middle Eastern, and European images
- Charlottesville and University of Virginia images
- Davis Family images
The textual records include the following information in separate Filemaker fields:
- City–city names, according to the index cards.
- State–states in which photographs were taken, according to the index cards.
- County–the county in which the photograph was taken, according to either the index cards or a map.
- Country–the country Davis was in at the time
- Month and Year–the date the photograph was taken, according to the index cards.
- Negative number–the number assigned by Davis to individual negatives.
- Comments–a free-text field in which special features of the content of the image are described. This field will be expanded in the near future with additional information gleaned from the project’s archival research.