The Collation

Research and Exploration at the Folger

Folger Tooltips: Changes to the Digital Image Collection

Dear Readers:

Our Digital Image Collection has had a bit of a make-over. The purpose of today’s post is to introduce you to new fields and field names and to explain a bit of background that lead to these changes.


As long-time visitors to will remember, for years we have relied for the most part on two sources for the descriptions that accompany digital images: the in-house digital image database used by the Photography and Digital Image office (PDI), 1 and Hamnet, when relevant catalog records are available. 

But as Collation readers know, we’re taking steps to provide more ways into the digital image collection, e.g. via expanding use of static URLs in Hamnet and in the Folger finding aids database. 2  We’ve also started taking steps in recent months towards improving access to digital images by augmenting existing descriptions using “Image title” and “Image details” fields in the digital image database. 3 This most recent work to add new and modify existing fields was prompted in preparation for our planned extending of web-based subject access via the internationally-adopted Iconclass thesaurus to illustrations bound into early printed British and English-language books. 4

The field changes:

Check out our new overview of all fields in the Folger digital image database here. You’ll see we’ve added some new (and as-yet-for-the-most-part-unpopulated) fields: Image Producer Name(s), Transcribed Information, Image Subject Term(s), Image IconClass Number(s), Image Bibliographical Reference(s), Image Order, Page Height, Page Width.  And you’ll see that we’ve renamed a lot of fields, most notably those that used to end with (PDI).

The truth is, we will almost certainly always be faster at digitizing than at cataloging. And we’ll continue to make images available as they are created, with whatever descriptive metadata is available. And additional future changes to our databases are more than likely; I’d say you can bank on it that this won’t be our last tweak.

But stay tuned for future updates in particular on our work at improving access to illustrations appearing in printed books of the Jacobean and Stuart era. Because the changes announced today position us for some important strides forward in indexing the iconography, subjects, and cultural contents of these narratively- and iconographically-rich woodcut and engraved illustrations.

As always, we welcome comments, corrections, etc.! The digital image team can be reached at Got questions? Meet us there, or in the comments below.

  1. To learn more about the work of PDI under the leadership of Julie Ainsworth, check out this Collation Q & A, and  in particular don’t miss the workflow chart (pdf)!
  2. See for instance this Collation post on access to images from Finding aids, or this Collation post on accessing cover-to-cover digitization from Hamnet.
  3. A good example of this is our ca. 1608 English translation of Ortelius (bib record: This title has been digitized cover-to-cover (full set of BookReader thumbnails:, but has also had each map captioned in detail, permitting keyword-searchable access to individual plates. E.g., this map of North Africa can be searched in both English and Latin, as it is captioned with an Image title of  “Map of the kingdoms of Fes and Morocco and inset map of the Kingdom of Kongo from Abraham Ortelius. Theatrum orbis terrarum. London, 1606 (i.e. 1608?).”, but also provides a transcription of a portion of the engraved text, “Fessae et Marocchi Regna Africae.”
  4. In 2012 the National Endowment for the Humanities funded a Folger digitization and subject indexing project called “British Book Illustration: Extending Access to 17th Century Visual Culture.” We call it “BBI” for short. We’ll cover this project, and our use of Iconclass, in some detail in future Collation posts, so stay tuned for that. Meanwhile to get a sneak peek at some of the early, not-yet-subject indexed digital images created under this project, here’s a link. More soon!

One Comment

  • Please can you tell me if the Folger has available on-line texts of the successive editions of Camden’s Britannia 1586, 1587,1590, 1594, 1600, and 1607 or any of these. I would be most grateful as I am trying to check which editions were used by the authors of successive descriptions of England. I would be most grateful.

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