Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Keep an Eye on TinEye


So, you're searching on the internet, looking into your family's past, and all of a sudden you come across an interesting old photograph: 
  • a street scene that just may be from the town where your great grandparents lived
  • an image of a faded and hard to read birth certificate
  • or best of all, a portrait of someone who, quite possibly, is directly in your family line.
Trouble is, there's not much information accompanying the photo, and you're really not sure where it came from or what it shows.  How can you find out more about it?

One very neat tool for checking further is called TinEye, a self-proclaimed reverse image search engine.

This is a very cool tool.  TinEye will quickly spool through more than a billion images in its collection to see if it can find a duplicate of the picture you need more information about.  If it does, it directs you to the websites where those duplicates can be found, and with a bit of luck, to more information about the provenance of the photographs.

Let's take the photo I ran with the FGT post, What's in a Place Name.    Suppose you came across that image, and wanted to know more about it.  There's not much information about the picture on FGT itself.  But a quick TinEye search uncovers six sites carrying the exact same photograph, including the Library of Congress site that is the original source of the photo. 

Russell Lee. School children singing. Pie Town, New Mexico, October 1940.
Reproduction from color slide. LC-USF351-372. LC-DIG-fsac-1a34151. FSA/OWI Collection. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of CongressRussell Lee. School children singing. Pie Town, New Mexico, October 1940. Reproduction from color slide. LC-USF351-372. LC-DIG-fsac-1a34151. FSA/OWI Collection. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress
Not bad, eh?

By the way, TinEye isn't a face recognition program.  It won't find different photos with the same people.  Instead, it's designed for one task...to find copies of the same photograph in other places around the web. 

TinEye is still a pretty young site.  It searches through more than a billion photos, but that's actually only a small chunk of what the web has to offer.  Give it a try, and definitely add it to your Favorites for checking back as its collection grows larger. 


Don't forget to also check for your family history at Ancestry.com and  NewspaperArchive. These are subscription databases, but they are among the most powerful research tools available for looking into family roots.

For finding someone, Intelius is the best people-search service on the web (but I'd suggest steering clear of their 'special offers').  

1 comment :

eHow100 said...

I'm amazed by TinEye. After reading your post I went to their website and watched their video...WOW! I'm impressed!
Thanks for posting. I learned something new.
-How100

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