Abstract: Identifying people in historical photographs is important for interpreting material culture, correcting the historical record, and creating economic value, but it is also a complex and challenging task. In this paper, we focus on identifying portraits of soldiers who participated in the American Civil War (1861-65). Millions of these portraits survive, but only 10-20% are identified. We created Photo Sleuth, a web-based platform that combines crowdsourced human expertise and automated face recognition to support Civil War portrait identification. Our mixed-methods evaluation of Photo Sleuth one month after its public launch showed that it helped users successfully identify unknown portraits.
Authors: Vikram Mohanty, David Thames, Sneha Mehta, Kurt Luther (Virginia Tech, Google)