New Spotlight exhibit: Stanford Historical Photograph Collection

September 28, 2016
Josh Schneider

In celebration of Stanford University's 125th anniversary, an exhibit of the Stanford Historical Photograph Collection (SHPC), which comprises one of the Archives' core pictorial collections documenting the history of the university, is now accessible online through Stanford Exhibits (

SHPC contains over 16,000 images of Stanford scenes, including photographs of and relating to the Stanford family, views of the campus and individual buildings, photographs of students and student life activities, and photographs of faculty and administrative staff. The majority of photographs are black and white gelatin prints but nineteenth-century albumen prints mounted on boards are also represented as are cyanotypes and color prints. The collection spans the late 1880s through the 1990s.

Stanford Prison Experiment

Coverage of student life is especially strong: the collection includes photographs of students in the classroom and laboratory, residences, athletic competitions (including the first Big Game and Rose Bowl), political demonstrations (including Vietnam War era protests, civil rights demonstrations and calls for increased campus diversity and inclusion), student traditions (including the Plug Ugly, Mudfight, and Lake Lagunita Bonfire), and a host of leisure activities.

Stanford Historical Photograph Collection (SC1071)

As one of Stanford University Libraries' earliest digitization projects, the collection has been shared online before through a variety of tools, including Luna Insight, Stanford Image Collections, Flickr, and SALLIE. What makes this exhibit unique? For one thing, we provide users with the option to download the highest resolution images available rather than lower-resolution surrogates. The collection also benefits from extensive metadata remediation and authority work, to help ensure a better end-user experience of browsing and searching the collection. Finally, the interface is much improved, as is overall site performance.

Stanford Exhibits represents Stanford University Libraries' implementation of Spotlight, which is being developed by and for the Library community. As a layer of services built on top of Blacklight, Spotlight interfaces seamlessly with Stanford's other digital infrastructure around digital preservation, the Stanford Digital Library (SDR), and access, and so represents a more sustainable solution for online exhibits. As the technology is more widely adopted, access to SHPC and other exhibits will improve across the board.

Stanford Historical Photograph Collection (SC1071)

Over the years, many people at SUL have been involved with the process of arranging, describing and digitizing the collection, as well as accessioning it to the SDR and making it accessible in Spotlight. We especially want to thank past University Archivists and Archives staff, including Maggie Kimball, Christy Smith, Aimee Morgan, and Pat White, as well as many people from Digital Library Systems and Services and Metadata, such as Tom Cramer, Philip Scheuer, Ben Albritton, Cathy Aster, Nancy Lorimer, Stu Snydman, Gary Geisler, Chris Beer, Jessie Keck, Tony Calavano, Doris Cheung, Nancy Hoebelheinrich, Laura Wilsey, Glen Worthey, Arcadia Falcone, Shelley Doljack, Joanna Dyla, Greta de Groat, Margaret Hughes, Heidi Lerner, Robert Rohrbacher, Kay Teel, Hilary Thorsen, Vitus Tang, and dozens of hourly digitization and metadata staff throughout the years.