Introducing the Bureau of Indian Affairs Photographs Finding Aid!

Today, we are pleased to announce that the National Archives launched a new web-based finding aid featuring digitized historical photographs from the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) records in Record Group 75. For the first time, you can explore digital copies of over 18,000 photographs through an engaging and easy-to-use online experience: the Bureau of Indian Affairs Photographs Finding Aid.

User-Driven, Powered by Citizen Archivists

NARA conducted research of users and stakeholders, followed by user testing to ensure this finding aid is useful to a broad spectrum of users. Users and stakeholders consulted included archivists and other information science professionals with experience in Native American records, members of Tribal Nations and representatives of organizations with connections to Tribal communities.

These users and stakeholders also provided feedback on the topics used in the finding aid. Once the final list of topics was selected, we curated the photographs into the Native American Photographs Tagging Mission to recruit the help of citizen archivists in tagging the photographs with these topics. The citizen archivist tags are used to power the presentation of photographs by topic in the finding aid. We appreciate the hard work of our citizen archivists who made this possible!

User-experience and technical development experts, archivists, and subject matter experts from NARA worked together to develop this finding aid. The finding aid uses the National Archives Catalog application programming interface (API) so when new records are digitized and added to the Catalog, they automatically get pulled into the finding aid. Additionally, the finding aid uses the International Image Interoperability Framework (IIIF)—a standardized framework for cultural institutions to provide access to images online—for an optimal design and user experience in viewing the photographs on all types of devices.

Using the Finding Aid

The landing page to the finding aid allows you to explore the photographs by Tribal Nation, topic or state. If you don’t know where to start, you can select any of the photographs on the landing page to learn more about that image and to find more photographs by clicking any of the Tribal Nations, topics or states listed.

We have also provided entry points into the records through interactive maps and data visualizations. By clicking on “States,” you can use the map provided to find photographs located in specific states.

From the landing page, you can scroll down to “Explore Tribal Nations” to expand a data visualization showing the topics available for featured Tribal Nations.

By clicking on Tribal Nation or topics from the landing page, you can browse the photographs from an alphabetical list of the Tribal Nations or topics available.

Additionally, from the bottom of the landing page you can explore photographs of notable Native Americans throughout history.

This project will continue to grow and evolve as NARA digitizes more photographs from the Bureau of Indian Affairs records. Therefore, some Tribal Nations, topics, and geographic areas may not yet be fully represented.


Please visit the Bureau of Indian Affairs Photographs Finding Aid and let us know what you think!