UR Digital Humanities Professor Lauren Tilton Selected as Researcher for Library of Congress Cultural Heritage Project

July 15, 2021

Lauren TiltonUNIVERSITY OF RICHMOND — Lauren Tilton, assistant professor of digital humanities in the University of Richmond’s Department of Rhetoric & Communication Studies, has been selected as a researcher for the Library of Congress’ “Computing Cultural Heritage in the Cloud” project.

Tilton is one of three researchers chosen to partner with the Library of Congress based on their expertise in the digital humanities and computer science fields.

Tilton, who also serves as a research fellow in UR’s Digital Scholarship Lab, is co-director of Photogrammar, an interactive photo collection focusing on the Great Depression era. The open-access, web-based tool, which is available through UR’s DSL, allows users to easily navigate and engage with 170,000 photographs taken between 1935 and 1943. Tilton also co-leads the Distant Viewing Lab, which uses computational techniques to process and analyze visual elements, such as photographs, and curate them into digital archives. 

In her role with the Library of Congress, Tilton will be working with fellow UR faculty Taylor Arnold, an associate professor in the Department of Mathematics and Computer Science, on “Access & Discovery of Documentary Images.” They will use computer vision to examine approximately 250,000 images from five early 20th century photography collections. Computer vision is a field of artificial intelligence where machines are trained to analyze images.

“Our work will include harnessing computer vision algorithms to identify objects in photographs of that time period, such as trains, cars, and telephones,” Tilton said. “We ultimately want to use this method to provide additional context and information to these historical photos, which may help people further reflect on the cultural, environmental, social, and political values and beliefs of that time.”