DC DDOT photo archive

Matthew Gilmore Discussion

Welcome to the District Department of Transportation's (DDOT for short) online photo archive called DDOT Back In Time. Here you'll find photographs chronicling DCs transportation history, including transit, streets, bridges, construction, bikes, pedestrians, and more. 

This archive is under construction. We have thousands of photos in our collection, as well as maps, newspaper clippings, and other historical items we are in the process of digitizing and adding to the site. So be on the look out for more. 

If you'd like to see even more of our collection, check out our Tumblr page at https://ddotdc.tumblr.com/ where we post weekly. You can also view the DDOT instagram page, where the library also contributes photos: https://www.instagram.com/ddotdc/



About the Collection

The DDOT Library: A Storied Past 

The DDOT Library has undergone a transformation. Built from the ground up after the move to DDOT's new headquarters at Navy Yard in May 2011, the collection's come a long way. We began with nearly 300 boxes of loosely organized items and worked our way up to being a fully-functioning embedded library and archive within the agency. 

The library's had several incarnations over the years-and was sometimes abandoned- with various caretakers collecting items from the late 1800s to present day. This unique history helped to create a remarkable, but until now, hidden collection detailing the city's transportation history and the story of DC itself, and our hope is to shake off the dust. 

While building this new foundation over the past five years, we’ve worked to organize, preserve, and make the library’s collections accessible to employees and the public both, and this Omeka site is part of the result of that effort. While very much under construction, this online collection will contain a look at DDOT’s historical photograph collection, as well as a snapshot of archival materials that are candidates for digitization. We'll be adding more photos, newspaper clippings, maps, and other historical documents in the near future. 

If you'd like to know more about our collection or would like to make an appointment to visit, contact us at kathleen.crabb@dc.gov

Searching is really non-obvious if you are not familiar with Omeka:

Home > Search Guidelines

Search Guidelines

Omeka termsOmeka uses three main terms for its organization: collection, item, and file. To prevent confusion, there is an explanation of each below:

  • The first grouping is called Collections. These are the largest groupings of photos, and the broadest. Collections are things like “DC Bridges” within which you will find more specific groupings.
  • These more specific groupings are called Items, and they are contained within Collections. Items are things like “Theodore Roosevelt Bridge” which contains all the photographs of that bridge and which is a part of the “DC Bridges” collection. Within Items are the individual photographs.
  • The individual photographs are called Files. Files are contained within Items.

All three levels have metadata attached to them. Most year and rights metadata appears on the File level.

Accessing metadata for individual photographs: If you want to see the metadata for individual photos (known as Files) you’ll need to use the search box. Type in your your area of interest, then click the three dots next to the magnifying glass. This will open a drop down menu. Under “search only these record types” unclick everything but “file.” Individual photo files will then pop up, and if you click on the photo the associated data will appear for that specific photo. If you access files through their larger item, you’ll only be able to see the item metadata and not the metadata for individual photos.  If you do “Browse collections” or “browse items” you’ll also only be able to see the collection and item level data, and not the file data, though you can click on the photos to enlarge them.

Tags: Omeka only allows for tagging at the Item level. So if you click on a tag, Items will pop up. 

Some Search Box Tips: The search function on the site has a tendency to turn up high numbers of results. Here are a few tips to circumvent that: 

  • When you type something in the search box, hit the three little dots next to it
  • Hit "boolean" instead of "keyword"
  • Then type in whatever you're searching for and put parentheses around it. For example "K Street" then hit the magnifying glass to search
  • This should lower the amount of hits. If you want to search by collection, item, or file individually, uncheck the others. If you'd like to search for all three, leave them all checked. 
  • If you're searching for something like "K Street" you will find photographs across the website. Some K Street photos you'll simply find in the "K Street" item. You will also find K Street photos in other items like "Hurricane Agnes" where K Street is a subject in the photo but not the main focus.
  •  You can also search the tags for photos of K Street.