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Thousands of Historical Mexican Photographs Now Part of an Electronic Catalogue
Paricutín volcano by Rafael Garcia, 1923. Photo: Archivo SINAFO-Fototeca Nacional/INAH.

MEXICO CITY.- More than half of the 900,000 historical images safeguarded by the INAH National Photographic Library are available to general public worldwide thanks to a new electronic catalogue available on the Internet. Images from the most important Mexican photographic collections can be consulted and acquired without having to travel to the facilities at Pachuca, Hidalgo.

After several months of hard work creating the catalogue cards, the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) integrated the virtual catalogue available at where images captured by more than 2,000 authors can be admired.

This project strengthens the divulgation task conducted by INAH regarding documentary heritage, testifying for social, political and artistic episodes as well as the daily life, evolution of landscape, urban development and the gradual transformation of the identity of inhabitants.

The aim is to make available, especially for researchers and publishers the collection of the National Photo Library in digital format. Images count with catalogue cards prepared by remarkable specialists, who have been studying photographs and information for years.

Until now, 470,000 images are available with their information cards, which include historical and descriptive information, characters depicted, place where it was captured, title of the series, author, period, process, background and format; this information could only be obtained directly at Fototeca Nacional, in Pachuca, Hidalgo.

Alejandro Tabla, coordinator of the project, mentioned that currently the National Photo Library has already digitalized 700,000 photographs out of 900,000 that integrate the collection.

For the integration of the electronic catalogue, the digitalization process is conducted at the National Photographic Library Laboratory, using special scanners since these are delicate items, most of them negatives and glass plates.

Besides consulting on-line, photographs can be acquired by putting them in the “shopping cart” option and placing a request that will be analyzed according to a legal-technical report.

The request must include complete information of the interested organization or person, specifically, the use to be given to the image, then, authorization is sent by e-mail; the quantity is deposited in a bank account and then the image is sent by e-mail again.

The Fototeca Nacional collection includes material that accounts for the different techniques and stages of photography as well as for several disciplines that have found a useful tool in photography, such as archaeology, anthropology, architecture, economy, health, sociology, astronomy and history.

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