About HEIR 

The Historic Environment Image Resource is a crowdsourced project to tag old photographs and rephotograph them in their modern setting.

We’d love you to join in by helping us keyword the past at http://heirtagger.ox.ac.uk,

If you would like to explore our online database of images, click here.

HEIR has its own blog – do visit it to find out more about the project and to catch up on the latest findings by the public – our co-researchers.

Member of public enjoys HEIRtagger

What is HEIR?

Between c.1880 and c.1950, the University of Oxford amassed an extensive collection of original high-resolution lantern and glass slide photographic images. They form an exceptional visual record of people, places, expeditions, and events from all over the world.

Figure 3 Anonymous Photographer Santiago de Compostela The Department of the History of Art, Oxford

Historic photographic images are increasingly being recognized as a vital resource to help researchers understand some of the most pressing current research issues, from environmental and climate change to human impact on the planet. They also generate huge and personal interest worldwide. The Oxford collection is exceptional, and includes unique, irreplaceable images. However, it is a fragile and deteriorating resource.


Hand painted lantern slide, Venice, Italy. Passmore Collection. Copyright the Institute of Archaeology, University of Oxford

This project will digitise and keyword photographs to create an accessible database of around 15,000 historic landscape and environment images from the late 19th to the early 20th century. Working with the Citizen Science Alliance, we will be calling on the worldwide community to help us identify lost landscapes and re-photograph sites as they are today. This will provide an invaluable resource to compare images of the past with the present to have a conversation about the future; to look at the impact of time, nature and people and how it has changed the world around us.

From the B. Blackwood Collection. Copyright the Institute of Archaeology, Oxford.

Vesuvius, Italy, 1923. Blackwood Collection. Copyright the Institute of Archaeology, University of Oxford.

The HEIR Team

Dr Sally Crawford and Dr Katharina Ulmschneider (Co-Directors)

Dr Janice Kinory (Researcher)

Dr Tony Randall (IT)

Advisory Board

Professor Heather Viles (Geography and Earth Sciences)

Victoria Brown (Department for the History of Art)

Dr Christine Madsen (Bodleian Library)

Dr Jas Elsner (Corpus Christi College)

Professor Chris Gosden (Institute of Archaeology, Oxford)

The Citizen Science Alliance

Contributing collections

The Ashmolean Museum

The Beazley Archive

The Department for the History of Art

The Institute of Archaeology

Geography and Earth Sciences, the Radcliffe Science Library (incorporating the Plant Sciences slide collection)

Harris Manchester College, Oxford

With grateful thanks to the Reva and David Logan Foundation and the Fell Fund for their generous support.

Ox Uni logo

Ashmolean Exhibition 2014 (15th to 21st November): click here.


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