Fremantle Society Photographic Survey
In 1978 the Fremantle Society conducted a comprehensive photographic survey of the buildings of Fremantle, Western Australia. This part of the website documents the process of producing this survey, and of digitising its results and getting them online.
- Groups — The original groups that the photos were stored in.
- Folders — The new archival folders that the photos were moved to in 2021.
The survey began in 1978 under the coordination of Ralph Hoare, with the aim to "create an indexed photographic record of all the residential and other buildings that currently exist in Fremantle, west of the proposed Easten Bypass and excluding the Central Business District, which is already substantially recorded."1
The photographers were given sheets such as the one shown at right, and followed the following instructions:
- Stand directly in front of the house on the footpath opposite, that you are going to photograph. If a tree or parked car is obscuring the photograph move to one side until an acceptable photo will result — use your discretion.
- The next house to photograph will be the house on the right of the house you just photographed as you face them. Repeat this proceedure until you reach a corner. Continue around the corner by taking another photograph of the corner house. Then continue to photograph the next house on the right, etc.
- Repeat these proceedures until you have moved completely around the cell you are photographing. Now move on to the next cell and repeat the whole proceedure until you have photographed the whole section.
- NOTE: You are photographing the cell in an anti-clockwise direction. Photograph all houses old or new, good or bad condition, pretty or ugly.
One of the main reasons for the survey was to evaluate the built environment of fremantle to identify buildings of particular heritage interest. The following classification system was used, with coloured stickers being applied to the photos:
- Red dot with black slash: Buildings of outstanding or unusual character and architectural significance. These were to be recommended to the National Trust for immediate classification, and recommended for inclusion on a Council Register.
- Red dot: Buildings which should be preserved because of their contribution to the unique character of Fremantle. These were to be recommended for inclusion on a Council Register.
- Brown dot: Buildings which should be included on a Council Register of buildings to be preserved because of their potential to be evaluated to 'red dot' classification.
- Black dot: Buildings that offer little or no contribution to the unique character of Fremantle.
- Yellow dot: Buildings which do not, strictly speaking, fall into category 1, 2, or 3 but which contribute positively to the built environment. These are mainly houses of the Federation period, early 20th Century buildings whose form and materials fit well with the earlier architecture. Some interesting modern buildings are included in this category.
- Green dot next to one of the above: These are buildings which were already classified or recorded by the National Trust. Many of these buildings lost their recorded status when the Trust changed to a single classification. Many buildings which were classified when the survey was done are not identified in this way.
Sections and Cells
The survey area was divided into 21 Sections, each of which was subdivided into about half a dozen Cells.
The photos were stored in 9 boxes (until 2021 when they were digitized). Eight boxes were cloth-covered cardboard and a (larger) one was polypropylene. They were labelled as follows:
- Christiana – G.
- South Street then Suffolk – V.
- W. – Z. West End
In 2012 the Fremantle Society started digitising the collection of prints of photos from the survey, and uploading and cataloguing them on Wikimedia Commons. In 2017 the photos were removed from Commons (for legal reasons — no copyright release forms were signed by the original photographers) and added to ArchivesWiki. In 2021 they were moved from the main part of ArchivesWiki into their own subsite, which is what you are reading now.
The photos were originally stored in nine small green cardboard photograph boxes, the prints edgeways and with nothing separating them. They were ordered by street name and then by street number (i.e. generally zigzagging down roads), with card dividers separating the streets.
The street name and number; classification triple of section, cell, and roll number; and year are all written on the back of each photo. Some photos have extra information written on them. This is either added to the filenames, or if there's lots (or it's illegible) the verso is scanned separately.
A key principal of the digitisation process was to retain the original order and all metadata, but also make it possible to re-organise the photos in a more useful way (for example, often the side of a corner house was photographed while surveying the side street, but it's good to be able to display all photos of the same house together on one web page).
The digitisation process was as follows:
- The photos were removed from the boxes, from front to back.
- Scanned to 24-bit PNG at 400 or 600 dpi (the variation in resolution is due to a new Epson V800 scanner being purchased after the process had bebun).
- The files were given file names based on the metadata from the back of the photos.
- The filenames are of the form
FSPS [Street Name] [accession number], [Description, generally house number], [codes], [year].png(note that accession order is not quite the same as street-number order, but is pretty close).
- Then, the photos were inserted into clear polypropylene (Albox brand) sleeves, four to a page.
- These sleeves were then stored in 3-ring polypropylene binders with slip cases (with around 60 sleeves per binder, or 240 photos), and stored at the Fremantle Local History Collection at the Fremantle Library.
- The files were uploaded to a single item, (FSPS1978) in the Internet Archive.