Postal Elements in the FSA Photography Collection

Project Goals and Methods

Project Goals:

  1. Develop a list of postal keywords through which to search the Library of Congress’ FSA photograph database.
  2. Examine the pictures found through these keywords.
  3. Identify and research postal themes found throughout the pictures and their subsequent implications for the cultural study of the United States during the time when the FSA Photography Project was in action.

My overall methods for this project very closely followed the goals outlined at the start. I developed a list of keywords that would aid me in my search. They were: post office/postoffice, collection box, mail, letters, mail box/mailbox, letter box/letterbox, postal, mail carrier, postman, post master/postmaster, and RFD or Rural Free Delivery.

After this I used the keywords and variations of them to search through the FSA negatives database. My one added step from the original goals was to design my own directory for cataloguing the pictures I found relevant.

This directory was designed with ease of searching in mind for both my own research purposes and with the hope that visitors to the final site would be able to access it as well. I decided upon six methods of characterization: a new nickname for the photo (since some photograph titles were obscenely long), a description highlighting the significance of the subject matter, name of the photographer, state, year, and the URL of the image. I decided to exclude any duplicate or extremely similar pictures to what I had already recorded and set strict standards to determine whether a photo was relevant or not to the project.

After creating this directory and researching many of the different subjects of photos I came across, I came up with two main overarching themes to research even further. Through the researching and broadening of these themes I came to the conclusions outlined later.