Project Gado is a social enterprise whose mission is to digitize and share the world’s visual history. We use innovative technologies to help small archives share and monetize their photographs, negatives, films and other visual artifacts. Our partners include the Johns Hopkins University, Getty Images, the Laguna College of Art and Design, and Sheet Music Plus.
Since 2010, Project Gado has revolutionized multiple aspects of archival digitization, preserving more than 100,000 archival images for future generations. We've been covered by Forbes, the Wall Street Journal, and NPR.
Our work, though, has focused mostly on established collections; archives of significant institutions like the Afro American Newspapers in Baltimore, which hold artifacts documenting major historic events, places and people.
But what about the history of everyday life? Snapshots, photo postcards, 35mm slides, souvenir photos and even Polaroids tell a rich history of the everyday lives of families and communities throughout the 20th century. This history deserves to be preserved just like the history of our most revered people and institutions.
Tragically, though, millions of these artifacts are destroyed every year. This is especially true for hard-to-view formats like negatives and slides. Since there is almost no collectors' market for these materials, they are often simply thrown away, their contents lost to history.
Project Gado is launching a new initiative to preserve these important pieces of our collective history and release them into the public domain for anyone to use through our website GadoImages.com
We begin by leveraging our extensive network of dealers, collectors and individuals to find and acquire at-risk photos of everyday life. Again, we often focus on formats like slides and negatives which others can't or won't preserve, often acquiring entire collections at once.
We then digitize the photos professionally at our lab in the San Francisco Bay Area. Through our work with world-leading archives, we have the equipment necessary to digitize to full archival standards, and to work with nearly any format, from 100+ year old albumen prints to Kodachrome slides.
Next, we use our proprietary image analysis software and an army of remote captioners to add keywords to each image. Finally, we will release these everyday life images into the public domain through our GadoImages.com website, so anyone can use them for free. This ensures that the images will live on as part of our collective heritage.
Project Gado has already committed to making 1,000 of these important images available online for free. You can see some of the images we've scanned so far by clicking here.
With your help, though, we can take this initiative much farther, saving thousands more photos of everyday life before they're lost forever, and creating a valuable resource for the bloggers, designers and history buffs who want to use these photos free of charge in their own creative projects.
You can help us by backing our project and supporting our initiative. For every $5 you donate, we'll be able to save 3-4 everyday life photos.
Of course, you get something out of the deal, too!
For $5, you'll get a personal "thank you" and your name on our donor page
For $15, you'll get a glossy 5x7 print of one of the photos we preserve during the initiative, your choice
For $25, you get a classy "I Helped Save History" magnet, featuring one of the photos scanned during the project. Display it proudly on your fridge, wall or locker!
At $50, you get a giant 16x20 poster-sized print of one of the photos we preserve during the initiative, your choice
At $100, things get interesting. You can assert some creative control over the initiative, suggesting a topic for us to focus on within the "Everyday Life" theme. We'll do our best to find and preserve images related to the topic. Act fast, though, as only 5 of these rewards are available
At $250, you'll get a hard drive with full resolution copies of all the public domain photos we release on GadoImages.com. This is great for designers and other creatives who want easy access to the unique public domain photo library we'll be creating.
And of course, even if you don't back our project, you can always download our public domain everyday life photos from GadoImages.com and use them for whatever you like! Be sure to check out our Premium collection while you're there, too, which features our rights-managed images through our partner Getty Images.
Thanks, and please feel free to reach out with any questions.
Risks and challenges
We will need to acquire a large number of everyday life photos, and to digitize them professionally. It's always possible to encounter delays, especially when working with historical artifacts. We will minimize the risk of delays by working with our existing dealer network to acquire materials for the project. Also, since all our scanning is done in-house at our San Francisco lab, we control the process and can minimize the risk of delays during scanning.
Creative control! Specify a topic within the Everyday Life theme, and we'll do our best to find, acquire, scan and release public domain photos related to that topic. For example, you might choose "dogs" or "classic cars".