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The New York Times Digitizes Millions of Historical Photos Using Google Cloud Technology

The New York Times today announced that it is leveraging the power of Google Cloud technology to digitize an extensive collection of photographs dating back to as early as the late 19th century. The process will uncover some never-before-seen-documents, equip Times journalists with an easily accessible historical reference source, and preserve The Times’s history, one of its most unique assets.

Prior to the digitization, millions of photographs, along with tens of millions of historical news clippings, microfilm records and other archival materials, existed only in a physical archive three levels below ground near The Times headquarters in New York City called “The New York Times Archival Library,” also known as the “morgue.” Though The Times officially began clipping and saving articles in the 1870s, they were not formally codified into a library until 1907.

“We’ve always known that we were sitting on a trove of historical photos and now, cloud technology allows us to not only preserve this archival source, but easily search and pull photos to provide even more historical context,” said Monica Drake, assistant managing editor, The New York Times. “Ultimately, this digitalization will equip Times journalists with useful tools to make it easier to tell even more visual stories.”

“Google Cloud technologies like Cloud Storage, Cloud Pub/Sub, and Cloud Vision API are helping to preserve this priceless history and give journalists a new way to search, access, and analyze millions of historic photos and give them new life,” said Brian Stevens, chief technology officer, Google Cloud. “Cloud technology is allowing The Times to protect one of their most unique assets migrating from steel filing cabinets to a cloud-based platform where journalists can bring visual storytelling to a whole new level.”

The newsroom will use the digitized archives to inspire stories for Past Tense, a body of coverage dedicated to revisiting history. The first package from The Times newsroom to utilize the digitized archives will focus on how The Times covered California in the 20th century, examining how California’s free-spiritedness and culture of recreation and innovation appeared to Times journalists 3,000 miles away. With an introductory essay by the acclaimed novelist Walter Mosley, the editorial initiative will look at tech innovation, the birth of two American sports — surfing and skateboarding — the world of celebrity coverage and more.


Picture what the cloud can do.


Originally published by James Vincent


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