Google and National Science and Media Museum digitise vast photo archive

100,000 images from the Daily Herald Archive have been scanned and analysed by AI, allowing users to create their own edition.

Bradford’s National Science and Media Museum has revealed a new collaboration with Google’s Arts & Culture arm, in a project which has digitised tens of thousands of photographs from the Daily Herald Archive.

Nearly 50,000 never before seen photographs from the photojournalism archive have been digitised, both front and back, and form the basis of new online stories, as well as an interactive online ‘experiment’ which allows users to create their own edition.

The photographs from The Daily Herald, once the world’s top selling newspaper, are held by the Science Museum Group at the museum.

The collection contains over 3 million items with prints from press agencies and freelance photographers alongside work created by Daily Herald staff photographers. The collection also includes 100,000 glass plate negatives and Day Books detailing the assignments allocated to the staff photographers.

As well as being scanned, photographs from the collection have been analysed by AI and text recognition technology. Image descriptions from the archive have been digitised using Optical Character Recognition (OCR), and organised using Natural Language Processing.

The collaborative project adds 100,000 new images and 35,000 new records to the Science Museum Group’s online collection. From photos within the archive, 25 online stories have been published on the Google Arts & Culture platform and 15 new stories are to be published on the Museum’s website.
Commenting on the collaboration, Jo Quinton-Tulloch, Director of the National Science and Media Museum said: “The Daily Herald Archive is one of the gems of our collection with over 3 million items from the newspaper that provide an incredible visual history of the first half of the 20th century.

“Thanks to our collaboration with Google Arts & Culture, we can share this remarkable archive more widely and truly bring the collection to life through fascinating stories and the interactive visualisation.”

Amit Sood, Director of Google Arts & Culture added: “Our collaboration with the National Science and Media Museum is a fantastic opportunity to explore one of their core collections in new, creative ways. The advancements in digitisation, coupled with algorithmic extraction and cutting edge AI allows users to explore a vast photo archive that captures a unique and captivating snapshot of British life.”

The Daily Herald Archive project and experiment can be viewed here.