- The Frazer Nash Archive

July 8, 2020


More than ten years ago, Microsoft's Access 2000 database software was used to make a Frazer Nash "digital inventory/archive" of photos and documents.  It was more "inventory" than "archive".  After experience with the (open-source) Greenstone Digital Library software, this program was used to create a Frazer Nash digital "collection" of documents, photos and other items.  Later, the Greenstone "export" function was used to produce and distribute 50+ DVDs with sample Frazer Nash historical data, categorized for searching and display.


This project was intended to start a framework of a Frazer Nash digital library that others, with more experience of digital libraries, Frazer Nash history and project management, could improve over time.  A digital library or a car history database should always be dynamic and never truly "complete".  However a long journey must start with a first step - hopefully this is a valid path!

The sample Access database is described on this webpage.  A complete list of all Frazer Nash cars was later added.  Issue: should GN and Frazer Nash-BMW cars be included?  If so, what is a source for this data?

The Frazer Nash Digital Library - First Trials 2011

The first Greenstone "collection" was made using about 100 Frazer Nash items: photos, documents, articles and website references.  However, there was some uncertainty when classifying these items.  What distinguishes a "title" from a "description" or a "subject and key words"?  What are the proper terms to use in each?  

Classification was first made on a common-sense basis, but would these classifications and terms be clear and useful for any user of the collection?  What will result if the collection was exchanged or combined with another digital library?  Would the "subject" be the same as another collection's "description"?  When it became evident that this was an issue that librarians may have faced for hundreds (or thousands?) of years, this need required research into "standards".

An initial question: "What is the 'proper' heading to use for Frazer Nash cars?" was partly answered by the Library of Congress Subject Authority File.  This implies that "Frazer Nash automobile" becomes the "subject" in the Frazer Nash digital library.  In the Greenstone program, this would be a Dublin-Core entry "dc.Subject and Keywords".  The Dublin Core metadata standard "Subject" is defined as "The topic of the resource".  It's assumed that other libraries do not deviate too far from Library of Congress (LOC) definitions.  

Because Greenstone also allows multiple, separate entries for any classifier, it seemed worthwhile to discover what term would be used for the "subject" of a book exclusively on the Frazer Nash cars by the British Library.  The subject classifications of "Frazer Nash automobile" and "Sports cars Great Britain History" are used by the British Library for Frazer Nash books by David Thirlby and Leslie Jennings, but not consistently. 

The Library of Congress also has a "Name Authority File" for personal names.  It includes an authorized version of the name, alternate versions and documentation for the selection of the authorized version.  Searching for "Frazer Nash" and "Frazer-Nash" only found "Frazer-Nash Consultancy Limited" as a "corporate name".  The same search in the British Library returned NO results.  What has happened to Archibald (Archie) Frazer Nash?  Both of these omissions require follow-up.

The LOC Name Authority was also checked for "AFN Ltd." This listed the recognized "Corporate name heading" as "AFN Ltd." with "Variant(s)" listed as "A.F.N. Ltd." and "AFN Limited".  See the LOC reference.

These recommended category entries are part of the "controlled vocabulary" for a classification system.

As background - the LOC established in the late '60s, the MARC (MAchine-Readable Cataloging) which is "a data format and set of related standards used by libraries to encode and share information about books and other material they collect".  Because of MARC's complexity, the "Dublin Core" was developed in the '90s as a standard for digital metadata ("data about data" or "“structured information that describes, explains, locates, or otherwise makes it easier to retrieve, use or manage an information resource, especially in a distributed network environment like for example the internet or an organization"),

The "Dublin Core" classification system used by Greenstone is relatively simple to understand and implement; it is  explained elsewhere on this website.  Its apparent simplicity may invite creativity rather than adherence to "standards" - an issue that should be improved or solved before there is much more work on a Frazer Nash digital library.

Each of the Dublin Core elements are separate categories for classification, to be filled with appropriate metadata.  For the car-oriented digital libraries, this project added "car manufacturer", "car make", "car model", "car year" and "car serial no", "car country", "car keyword" and "car location".  Other categories can be added if necessary.

Are the Dublin Core categories and the suggested "car" categories sufficient?  What should be added?

Other than the British Library and the Library of Congress, has any organization (RAC?) established a "controlled vocabulary" for an auto/vehicle classification system?

Are there any Frazer Nash Car Club members or member friends with library skills or experience?

Further Progress - 2013

The sample Frazer Nash collection was brought closer to classification "best practices" and the remaining 1,000+ documents, photographs and references are planned for addition to the collection (over time!)

A trial/sample/test Excel list of the Frazer Nash cars was used for import trials into Greenstone, to form a standard for later entries into this collection.  This list of all Frazer Nash cars was greatly improved in July, 2013.

This is a video progress report on the very successful import trials on January 9, 2012. The video from January 9 is Part 1.  Part 2 is an 11-minute demonstration on adding records (photographs) to the Frazer Nash collection and selecting metatags for those photos.  The video also shows the Excel source for a test Frazer Nash "owners" collection and explains how that Excel file was imported to Greenstone.

Although many of Frazer Nash resources are in paper format, additional scanning is not planned until it's known if these documents are unique and have not been already scanned by the Frazer Nash Archives.

The Frazer Nash "collection" should sufficient to evaluate the value of Frazer Nash digital library.  DVDs that demonstrate this fully-contained, self-running library were sent to two Frazer Nash Archive trustees.  

In May, 2012, the Frazer Nash archive/library/collection was put online to allow wider Club member evaluations and feedback.  User authentication and password security can be added, if requested.

In July, 2013, after much volunteer experience with a car museum selection process for a Collections Management System (CMS), a few "best practices" of museums and archives were adapted to the Frazer Nash archive on  

When (and if) the Frazer Nash Car Club thinks the digital library (or the Access database) is useful for organizing the Frazer Nash Archive and any future contributed material, current versions of the Greenstone and Access material will be  sent to the Club.  If the Club takes a different path, a digital library of personal resources will be maintained

2014 Activity

An early Greenstone collections/archives made was for the Frazer Nash.  Later, it was based on an imported (exploded) CSV file of all the pre-war and post-war cars, about 440 cars (including "replicas").  The archive also contains about 120 objects, consisting of photos, documents and sample web pages.  These objects were categorized in Greenstone with the standard Dublin Core metadata categories, plus author-created car-specific categories such as "car.make", "car.year", etc.

Based on lessons learned through work on Digital Asset Management systems (DAM) and Collection Management (CMS) systems, the archive was upgraded with new digital archival techniques.  However, there is very little difference visible to an end-user.  These changes improve searching and make the addition of new material more rationale.  Also the Frazer Nash archive is closer to "best practices".

These are the types of improvements to the Frazer Nash archive:

A. Object/Resource Numbering

B. Improved Metadata Use

C. Use of Embedded Metadata

D. Frazer Nash Raid to New England - Creating Captions and Car IDs Using Embedded Metadata

E.  Further Metadata Trials and Recommendations

Section D describes the first use of the ExifTool to efficiently put metadata into a group of photos from an Excel spreadsheet (exported to a CSV file).  This should be very useful for archives with many digital photos which are partly or poorly identified.

A. Object/Resource Numbering

The initial list of Frazer Nash cars in the archive had a simple numbering scheme - the first Frazer Nash built is "F001", the next one is "F002", etc.  Museum and archives practices recommend  an "accession number", which should be in the first section the year an object enters the collection, and then just serialized for each object after that.  Multiple objects entering in a group would get a third digit. 

The first Frazer Nash built in 1925 with S/N 1008 is now assigned "1925.1008".  None of these cars actually "enter the collection", but this combination of year and chassis number seems to be a practical approach.  Postwar cars have serial numbers such as "421/100/168".  The last three digits are uniquely adequate and easily remembered, so a specific car built in 1952 becomes "1952.168"

Other resources - photos, documents, books - will use the archive convention if the "collection entry date" is known and meaningful.  Most frequently, numbers are being assigned to the date(s) best identified with the object.  A photograph or document from April, 1954 will become with the "xxx" assigned as necessary.  A spreadsheet is used record the file names, accession numbers and a description of the item.  As discussed below, this data will be used eventually as "metadata" for each object/resource.

Figure 1 below is the master spreadsheet showing data for the early cars and the assigned accession numbers.

Figure 1 - Extract from a Frazer Nash spreadsheet

This spreadsheet was converted to a CSV file and imported into the Frazer Nash archive (see a guide to this process here) on July 20, 2013.  It was imported, deleted, imported, etc. a few times before achieving good results!  As forecast, there are no apparent changes for an end-user.

B. Improved Metadata Use

Other pages on this website explain what is "metadata" as it relates to digital resources.  A complete and authoritative guide can be found at: Dublin Core User Guide.  From this guide:

"A metadata record consists of a set of attributes, or elements, necessary to describe the resource in question. For example, a metadata system common in libraries -- the library catalog -- contains a set of metadata records with elements that describe a book or other library item: author, title, date of creation or publication, subject coverage, and the call number specifying location of the item on the shelf."

The linkage between a metadata record and the resource it describes may take one of two forms:

1.  elements may be contained in a record separate from the item, as in the case of the library's catalog record; or

2.  the metadata may be embedded in the resource itself."

Using "embedded metadata" is the next topic.  There are many standard metadata classifications but the primary one used by Greenstone is the "Dublin Core" which has 15 basic categories:

Dublin Core Metadata



A name given to the resource.

dc.Subject (and keywords)

The topic of the resource.


An account of the resource.


A point or period of time associated with an event in the lifecycle of the resource.

dc.Type (of resource)

The nature or genre of the resource.

dc.Identifier (of resource)

An unambiguous reference to the resource within a given context.


A related resource from which the described resource is derived.


The file format, physical medium, or dimensions of the resource.

dc.Creator (author)

An entity primarily responsible for making the resource.


An entity responsible for making the resource available.

dc.Contributor (other)

An entity responsible for making contributions to the resource.


A language of the resource.


A related resource.


The spatial or temporal topic of the resource, the spatial applicability of the resource, or the jurisdiction under which the resource is relevant.

dc.Rights (management)

Information about rights held in and over the resource.

Table 1 - Dublin Core categories defined

These categories were known when the Frazer Nash archive was created, but their use was inconsistent.  To better understand improving their use, the Dublin Core examples were reviewed.  Specific examples in Table 2 below come from this Frazer Nash photo (Figure 2).  

Figure 2 - Frazer Nash Mille Miglia publicity photo, Duke Donaldson is the driver

Dublin Core Metadata

Frazer Nash Examples


Frazer Nash Mille Miglia publicity photo, Duke Donaldson is the driver

dc.Subject (and keywords)

Frazer Nash, Mille Miglia, Duke Donaldson


Publicity photo of Mille Miglia 421/100/168 in New York



dc.Type (of resource)


dc.Identifier (of resource)



1952.10.5 (the accession number of the the photograph which was scanned)



dc.Creator (author)

Duke Donaldson


Bob Schmitt

dc.Contributor (other)





1952.168 (the accession number of the actual car in the photograph)



dc.Rights (management)


Table 2 - Frazer Nash Dublin Core examples

Data similar to that in Table 2 is already in the Frazer Nash archive for all the objects and resources, but was not very well "controlled."  To approach archival standards, many of the terms should adhere to a "controlled vocabulary" from an "authority.  As described above, the Library of Congress Name Authority File recognizes "Frazer Nash" as the preferred term for this car and this project will use this as part of a controlled vocabulary. No authority could be found for John Stuart "Duke" Donaldson, the importer of several cars and owner of the Frazer Nash car and team that won Sebring in 1952.

C. Use of Embedded Metadata

In the original Frazer Nash Greenstone archive, all the resources are described and classified by "external" metadata, which are stored by the Greenstone program as separate files.For the most part, the work that was done to create this metadata is only useful in the Greenstone environment, with some exceptions for specialized exports of Greenstone files.  Collection managers now realize there are many benefits to "embedding" the metadata in the digital objects, as this forms a link between the metadata and the object that can only be changed by deliberate editing.

Embedding metadata is discussed elsewhere on this website with the ExifTool and other programs.  (A recent, unreviewed video on getting started with the ExifTool and GUI is here) The ExifTool (and its GUI) allow the metadata to be extracted to spreadsheet compatible files.  These, in turn, can be imported to Greenstone or Greenstone archive can be built directly, using only the embedded metadata.  In summary - "type it once, use it many times".

One initial decision is to choose which categories to use for embedding data - there are hundreds, perhaps thousands!  Picasa captions are put into XMP and IPTC categories: "Description".  Picasa tags (keywords) are put into "XMP.Keywords" and the "DC.Subject" categories.  The ExifToolGUI was found to be more flexible, useful and efficient than Picasa.  There is some inconsistent transfer of keywords between IPTC.Keywords and DC.Subject when using Picasa to embed "tags".

In the ExifToolGUI program, a custom Workspace file was created to embed metadata in certain Dublin Core, EXIF and XMP categories.  The ExifToolGUI will display metadata in PDF, Word and Excel files.  Although the the ExifToolGUI will write metadata to some PDF files, expect to use other programs (Acrobat, Lightning PDF, etc.) to embed metadata in PDF files.  Word, Excel and compatible programs in LibreOffice and OpenOffice can embed limited categories of metadata in the "Properties" menu choice for "doc" and "xls" files.

Table 3, below, is the Workspace "set" (part of the "ExifToolGUIv5.ini" file) to use for work on the FN archive, created by much trial and error!

Metadata Category

Category Code



Accession/ID Number Identifier Accession or ID Number
DC:Title Title DC Title (alt: name of object)
DC:Description Description DC Description
DC:Subject Subject DC subject
IPTC:Keywords IPTC:Keywords Keywords/tags (use comma)
DC:Resource Identifier Identifier DC Resource Identifier
DC:Relation Relation DC Relation (to Primary Object)
DC:Source Source DC source (is part of)
DC:Creator Creator DC creator
DC:Date Date DC date
DC:Contributor Contributor DC contrib
DC:Coverage Coverage DC coverage
DC:Format Format DC format
DC:Type Type DC type
DC:Language Language DC language
DC:Publisher Publisher DC publisher
DC:Rights Rights DC rights
Artist/Author Author "Bob Schmitt"
Location Location Where created
Primary Object Number XMP:Relation Relation to Primary Object
PDF Title pdf:Title Document title
PDF Subject pdf:Subject Document subject
PDF Keywords pdf:Keywords Document keywords
CreateDate exif:CreateDate [2012:01:14 20:00:00]
DateTimeOriginal exif:DateTimeOriginal [2012:01:14 20:00:00]
FileAccessDate FileAccessDate  
FileName FileName  
FileSize FileSize  
FileType FileType  
ImageSize ImageSize  
PhotoShop: TextLayer TextLayerText Copyright data (if stored by Photoshop)
PDF Relation pdf:Relation Custom tag being tested; similar to DC:Relation

Table 3 - ExifToolGUI Workspace for the Frazer Nash archive

Below is the actual "WorkspaceTags" part of the "ini" file that will produce the Workspace described above and shown below.  It can be copied and pasted into that corresponding section any ExifToolGUIv5.ini:

Accession/ID Number=-Identifier^Accession or ID Number
DC:Title=-Title^DC Title (name of object)
DC:Description=-Description^DC Description
DC:Subject=-Subject^DC subject
IPTC:Keywords=-IPTC:Keywords^Keywords/tags (use comma)
DC:Resource Identifier=-Identifier^DC Resource Identifier
DC:Relation=-Relation^DC Relation (to primary object)
DC:Source=-Source^DC source (is part of)
DC:Creator=-Creator^DC creator
DC:Date=-Date^DC date
DC:Contributor=-Contributor^DC contrib
DC:Coverage=-Coverage^DC coverage
DC:Format=-Format^DC format
DC:Type=-Type^DC type
DC:Language=-Language^DC language
DC:Publisher=-Publisher^DC publisher
DC:Rights=-Rights^DC rights
Artist/Author=-Author^"Bob Schmitt"
Location=-Location^Where created
Primary Object Number=-XMP:Relation^Relation to primary Object
PDF Title=-pdf:Title^Document title
PDF Subject=-pdf:Subject^Document subject
PDF Keywords=-pdf:Keywords^Document keywords
CreateDate=-exif:CreateDate^[2012:01:14 20:00:00]
DateTimeOriginal=-exif:DateTimeOriginal^[2012:01:14 20:00:00]
PhotoShop: TextLayer=-TextLayerText^Copyright
PDF Relation=-pdf:Relation^Custom tag being tested; similar to DC:Relation

Figure 4 below shows what the ExifToolGui sees on the image file from Figure 2 before adding the example data from Table 2 (above), as embedded metadata.

Figure 4 - Screenshot from the ExifToolGui

The benefit of using a modified Workspace manager with the ExifToolGUI is the efficient ability to embed user-chosen data in digital photos and documents for later search and retrieval.  Further, extracting the data to spreadsheet compatible files is easily done for many future uses.  Experience builds proficiency with the ExifToolGUI - it can embed data in selected batches of photos quickly.  The original photo file date can also be preserved.

Figure 5, below, is an Excel spreadsheet made from ExifTool extraction of metadata embedded in 200+ images and documents in the Frazer Nash Greenstone archive.  Although the "external metadata" in the original archive was not changed, this demonstrates that the title, subject, keywords, etc. embedded in these documents can also be used for classifying and searching the archive and for any other future need.  Note that the "Identifier" category (column) is the new accession number assigned to these digital objects.

Figure 5 - Screenshot from an Excel spreadsheet of extracted metadata

This Frazer Nash archive has also embedded the "DC:Relation"/"Primary Object Number" in nearly all photos and documents, showing the relation of the digital object to the physical object (primarily a particular Frazer Nash car). This has the potential for very good, future benefits.  In the example in Figure 4 above, the subject Frazer Nash car is "1952.168". This technique can be used for collections and databases that include lists of car owners, cars, events and digital objects.

It isn't clear if there is a set of the "best" metadata categories to use.  The metadata set in Table 3 was used for trials of objects in the Frazer Nash archive beginning July 20, 2013 and continuing. Even after 200+ objects have been so enhanced, further readings and trials will ensure these are "correct", or reasonable, categories.

Based on more trials and feedback from reviewers with the sample of photos and documents in the archive, this webpage will further make recommendations that may help others making Greenstone collections.

D. Frazer Nash Raid to New England - Creating Captions and Car IDs Using Embedded Metadata

Approximately 500 personal photos were shot on the Frazer Nash Car Club Raid to New England, September 24 - October 3, 2013.  Just over 400 were considered "good" and tagged into a Picasa Album, then uploaded to a Picasa Web Album.  The ExifTool GUI was used to put captions in "DC:Description" category; these appear as captions in Picasa on the photos. The cars were also identified with an assigned accession number in the "DC:Relation"/"Primary Object Number" fields.  These accession numbers were created as described above (e.g. "1952.196"), but a few cars could not be identified with a chassis number, so numbers such as "1937.UNK1" were assigned, for temporary, testing reasons.  Keywords and map locations were also assigned in the ExifToolGUI and confirmed in Picasa.

Adding a unique accession number (in the "DC:ResourceIdentifier" category) for each photo would be tedious using the ExifToolGUI, so the ExifTool "-tagsFromFile" option, used from the command line.  This option is described as using data from a CSV file ("saved as" from Excel) to write to entire folders of images as new (or added) metadata. After help from the ExifTool forum, this command was successfully run.  These were the steps:

1.The metadata was extracted from the photos by running the ExifTool from the (Windows) command line as follows to make a CSV/Excel file:

exiftool -csv -r -FileName -FileSize -Title -Identifier -Description -Subject -DateTimeOriginal -Relation -Keywords e:\DigitalLibrary\USRaid > Raid1030.csv

This produced the "Raid1030.csv" file, opened in Excel.

2. The metadata for each photo (in the Excel rows) and in each category (in the columns) was checked.

3.  Specific data for 102 photos of individual cars was copied from the "Keywords" column to the empty "Title" column. This set of photos was the initial selection of photos to be added to the Greenstone archive.

4.  The Excel "data fill" function was used to create an "accession number" for all 400+ photos in the format "2013.9.1", "2013.9.2" etc. in the "Identifier" column.

5.  Columns that had no new data were deleted, leaving only "SourceFile", "Title" and "Identifier".

6.  The Excel file was saved in the "CSV" format, using a new file name: "Raid1030input.csv". This was done to prevent confusion with the CSV file which extracted the metadata from the photos.

7.  A command window was opened and the "e:\DigitalLibrary\USRaid\" drive and directory for the photos was maneuvered to. 

8.  This ExifTool command was entered:

exiftool -csv=Raid1030input.csv -ext jpg -v2 e:\DigitalLibrary\USRaid\

9.  Success!  The accession numbers were added to all 405 photos as "Identifiers" and the 102 individual car photos now had "Titles".  The ExifTool had backed up the original photos with an added "original" file extension.  

77 of the 102 photos were further selected and added to the Frazer Nash Greenstone archive.  Only a single Greenstone item of "external" metadata was added in the "DC:Description" category at the "folder" level: "Frazer Nash cars on the Raid to New England, 2013" using the Greenstone "Enrich" function.

The Raid car photos can be reviewed in the Greenstone archive in the "titles" browsing tab by looking for the "year of manufacture" of any car; it's the last tab segment: "0-9".

One anomaly was noted in the displayed "Document/photo date" field for some Raid cars - the date of the most recent photo modification (when photos were resized smaller for this archive by an export from Picasa) is displayed.  For other cars, the preferred "DateTimeOriginal" is shown.  Review of the metadata in Greenstone shows "DateTimeOriginal" has not been consistently extracted from all files; this is an issue for further investigation.

To provide another method to find the Raid cars, the Greenstone "Create" function was used to add the metadata category "ex.XMP.Relation" to "car.Serial" as a search index.Because this archive primarily holds digital objects classified with metadata originally imported as Greenstone "external" metadata, "car.Serial" is on nearly all these original objects.  The Raid cars embedded field "Relation" is now the "accession number", assigned by the year AND serial number of each car (if known).  

The full metadata descriptor for "Relation" is "ex.XMP.Relation".  Greenstone will search both of these fields in the single "car serial number" search box.  For example, searching for "2065" (look for "2065" by searching for "car serial number") will display two photos of the 1932 TT Replica that visited the Raid at the Lime Rock race track and the simple (nul) record originally imported in July, 2013.  See section A. above and Figure 1.

The ExifTool was later used on the original photographs in the "sep13" and "oct13" folder, in two steps.  First, all photos had complete (and new) accession numbers added, even those not related to the Raid.  Next, those photos intended for the Greenstone archive had "Titles" added, exactly as done previously.  This new metadata was visible, of course, in the Picasa Album for the Raid. Later all the original Raid photos had accession numbers and "titles" added.  Individual car photos were exported and resized, as done previously, and the photos replaced those previously in the Frazer Nash Archive.  These steps were repeated to develop and confirm a process that can be recommended for other collections and archives.

When a photo is found or viewed on the Frazer Nash archive (search for "2065" as above), this photo can be saved - "Save Image As..." - and the metadata can be reviewed in the ExifToolGUI or other programs.  The file name may have been changed, but the original metadata has been preserved. 

Alternative Greenstone search and browsing categories are possible, as are changes to the display format of the search and browsing results.  Greenstone reports it has extracted 90+ metadata items from most digital objects, so many, many search and display formats are possible!

E. Further Metadata Trials and Recommendations

After visiting the Frazer Nash Archives in September 2014, the command-line ExifTool was used to create Excel spreadsheets from more than 2,000 Frazer Nash photos in 53 subdirectories of a single "AFNPics" folder/directory to evaluate its possible application to the digital resources in the Frazer Nash Archives.  The ExifTool was also used to create embedded metadata for the 800+ travel photos in England.

Based on this recent experience, these recommendations should be considered as "next steps" for any collection of digital assets:

1.  Use the ExifTool from the command line to read entire folders/subfolders of photos.

2.  Review the resulting Excel file ("save as" from the CSV output file) to determine which metadata categories will help organize these collection assets.  

3.  The Dublin Core categories should have high priority, especially the "DC-Identifier" category which will prove very useful if used for a unique "accession number" for each digital asset.  Although the documentation for the ExifTool states that new (i.e., car-specific) metadata categories can be created, this is complex.  An accession number would be the best method to link the default embedded metadata categories (Dublin Core and similar) to car-specific categories that can be more easily created on a Collections Management System (CMS) and/or Greenstone.  Using accession numbers is also a museum "best practice". 

4.  Use the Excel copy/paste functions to file in missing metadata.  Use the Excel "data fill" command to create accession numbers in the DC:Identifier category.

5.  Use the ExifTool from the command line to write the Excel file (in CSV format) back to the entire set of  photo folders/subfolders.

6.  At any future time, you may use the ExifTool again from the command line to read these "metadata-updated" photo folders/subfolders to create data-rich Excel files for import into a collections management, content management or digital library (e.g. Greenstone) software program.

In conclusion, why consider creating "embedded metadata"?  Most significantly, embedding metadata in digital objects (photos, etc.) results in those objects being very well identified for many future uses - not only for Greenstone!  Databases, Digital Asset Management (DAM) systems and Collections Management Systems (CMS, for archives and museums) most always can use the exported Excel-file data directly or indirectly as imports into their system

Frazer Nash - Collections Management System - 2015 Update

The online, prototype archive for the Frazer Nash, using the Greenstone Digital Library software, has been available since 2012.  Using the same data, a Collections Management System (CMS) database/archive was created in 2014 using the PastPerfect software.  Both systems used personal Frazer Nash data in the common Excel file format, divided into four Excel files based on PastPerfect's "museum standard" categories:

  • Objects: This is a list of 443 Frazer Nash cars that includes the Oswald and C&G postwar Le Mans Replica replicas.  It does not include any GN or Frazer Nash-BMW cars.

  • Library: This inventory of books and periodicals has 229 items.  The base data is a 120-item bibliography received from James Trigwell more than 15 years ago. 40 of these are periodical articles digitized to a PDF format.

  • Archive: There are 58 items of correspondence, brochures, receipts, specifications, etc. which are neither a "book" or "periodical".  40 of these are in PDF format.

  • Photographs:  In this group used by both archives, there are 88 photos which are well-captioned, digitized and identified to a Frazer Nash car. Not in the Greenstone or PastPerfect data sets are more than 2,000 additional photos in a "Frazer Nash" folder/directory and another 1,000 in various travel folders; 400 of these are identified or captioned to a lesser standard. 

The  Frazer Nash data used for the Greenstone and the PastPerfect data sets had on-going improvements as follows:

Object/Resource Numbering

Neither the Greenstone collection nor the PastPerfect archive initially used proper "accession numbers" to identify any photo, object, book or document.  "A best practice" for museum and archives  is to assign an "accession number" to everything in a collection!  Further museum standards can be found on the Collections Trust website.  The National Gallery of Art search example demonstrates one useful aspect of this technique.

Standard accession number practice is a numbering system with several sections, separated by a period.  The first section is the year an object enters the collection, and then following objects are serialized after that.  Multiple objects entering in a group would get a third digit.  For example, the first item added to a collection in January, 2016 would be "2016.1"

Frazer Nash use of accession numbers for the "objects" departs from this practice slightly: the first Frazer Nash built in 1925 with S/N 1008 was assigned "1925.1008".  None of these cars have actually "entered the collection", but this combination of year and chassis number is a useful approach.  Postwar cars have serial numbers such as "421/100/168".  The last three digits are uniquely adequate and easily remembered, so a specific car built in 1952 becomes "1952.168"

Photos, documents, books use use the museum convention if the "collection entry date" is known and meaningful.  More frequently, numbers have been assigned to the date(s) best identified with the object.  A photograph or document from April, 1954 will become with the "xxx" assigned as necessary.  A spreadsheet is used record the file names, accession numbers and a description of the item.  As discussed below, this data will be used eventually as "metadata" for each object/resource.

Figure 6 below is a spreadsheet showing data for the early cars and the "dc.Resource_Identifier", which is the accession number. This spreadsheet was used to import data for both the Greenstone and PastPerfect systems.

Figure 6 - Extract from a Frazer Nash spreadsheet

Figure 7 below is a similar spreadsheet showing the "accessno" and data for the above-mentioned well-captioned photographs.

Figure 7 - Extract from a Frazer Nash photos spreadsheet (column headings in red are "user defined fields" added to PastPerfect)

And for the library:

Figure 8 - Extract from a Frazer Nash library spreadsheet

Each object in the museum/collection must have a unique accession number.  This traditionally was done by recording the accession number in a log book as each object entered the collection.  This archive spreadsheets are sorted and edited to eliminate duplicates.

FNCC Issue 1: "Our conservator advises that they (photos) should be kept together in dedicated storage systems under controlled conditions, and museum supply companies offer lots of options for doing just this.  However, storing in this way means separating the photos from the original subject files where paper items, for example, are catalogued."

Suggestion 1:  Each photograph should be assigned an accession number and be so identified.  Your conservator can recommend a safe labeling method.  My newer prints have the number penciled on the back.  This number - also termed "Resource Identifier" in the standard Dublin Core categorization system - permits linking the photo to other documents, objects (cars), people in a Dublin Core "Relation" category.  PastPerfect has a specific "Relation" field for unlimited linking.

FNCC Issue 2: "...photographs, above all other media, have multiple identifying parameters (date, place, people, cars, event etc.).  So it is very difficult to cross reference these without reverting to something like a card index system, which is very cumbersome and doesn't sit well with the limited resources we have in the Archives."

Suggestion 2:  Although my "photos archive" uses only 20 categories for identification (accessno, objectid, objname, title, date, Photo File, Digital Size, FileType, FileSize, collection, photographer, Description, Subject, event, Keywords, locfield1, place, origcopy, Relation), the PastPerfect program allows up to 140 categories for photo identification; of this, 22 can be "user defined".

To test the Frazer Nash Archive needs, write all imaginable, desired identifying parameters for the Frazer Nash photos as column headings on a paper grid and "test drive" about ten older photos.  This grid will be a template for a spreadsheet, which in turn can be used for an import file to a CMS program.

Identifying Parameters/Standard Categories

The library/museum term used for data that identifies objects, books, photos and documents is "metadata".  An early standard to set metadata "categories" is the Dublin Core.  From the Dublin Core User Guide:

"A metadata record consists of a set of attributes, or elements, necessary to describe the resource in question. For example, a metadata system common in libraries -- the library catalog -- contains a set of metadata records with elements that describe a book or other library item: author, title, date of creation or publication, subject coverage, and the call number specifying location of the item on the shelf."

There are many metadata classification schemes but an early and commonly recognized one is the "Dublin Core" which has 15 basic categories: see Tables 1, 2 and 3, above.

The 15 categories of the Dublin Core should be considered basic; the 100+ metadata categories of PastPerfect indicate photos, objects, etc. can be described with great granularity.

The Revs Digital Library is a good example of a digital photo archive with useful identification and search categories.  For example, it has identified 56 Frazer Mille Miglias, including a personally-owned car at the 1952 Turin Auto show..  James Trigwell has reviewed many photos in this collection and submitted detailed captions for Frazer Nash appearances. 

Before Selecting a CMS

FNCC Issue 3:  "When we come to handling the digitised images of the photographs, the obvious choice is to consider a relational database and not a menu-driven method.  There is no shortage of commercial and free software for implementing this and we would be spoilt for choice.  We already have an example in our inventory as we were donated a simple database file based on Filesaver Pro containing some hundreds of photos of a GN personality.  This is a general software programme rather than one dedicated to photographic images, and so probably isn't ideal.  Looking further ahead, we'd like to be able to use this software in conjunction with the Archives' website currently being organised by Lou Bunting, so it should be flexible enough to import and export image files a varying formats."

Suggestion 3a:  There are, at last count, 38 CMS software packages on the market.  Of these, three are "open-source".  Experience with a widely-used, capable program, PastPerfect, is on this webpage. This page also contains links to a CMS introduction/overview.  I can send a disk that contains the PastPerfect demo program, their user manual, and the sample Frazer Nash database that can be imported to the program.

The San Diego Auto Museum has used PastPerfect for several years.  The Auburn-Cord-Duesenberg Museum confirmed sent an email on February 23 (2016) stating they are using PastPerfect as an integral part of their digitization project that started in June 2015.  The ACD has now completed 45 percent of its two-year goal to digitize 7-10,000 documents.

Why use a CMS and not a general relational database?  A good CMS will encourage "museum best practices" out of the box while a general purpose relational database must be customized for a collection. It will be difficult to maintain and not directly control collection procedures.  An analogy is the use of a spreadsheet for business accounting as opposed to accounting software that follows "generally accepted accounting practices."

Suggestion 3b:  The FileSaver Pro program has not be evaluated. Any database program should export the data -do NOT use any program that does not easily import and export to a standard file format (xls, CSV, dbf)!  These formats are easily "read" by Excel.  Excel, in turn, has the tools to allow an experienced user to standardize the imported record data.  "Data Fill" can create accession numbers.  Columns can be re-named to standard headings.  Sorting, search and replace, copying and pasting can improve the data for import to a CMS. It can also bring the data to a "standard vocabulary".  

Suggestion 3c:  PastPerfect is not quite perfect!  Although it creates and manages the collection inventory to "best practice" standards, at least two functions require additional steps: making relations and adding digital images.  

Its "virtual exhibit" feature will create a webpage of a subset of the collections records, but the program does not use a "web interface" or run remotely from a server. The network version is a moderate cost option.  PastPerfect will also host your collection for public access as an extra-cost option.  

No other CMS reviewed to date has a user manual approaching the same quality as PastPerfect; it is nearly a "how to" run a museum!  PastPerfect is highly recommended to any collection manager to gain CMS experience.  In the long term, large collections should review and consider using one of the open-source CMS programs.

Suggestion 3d:  Open an account with LibraryThing to enter the archive's books.  Most books are "in" and will be matched to an existing library database, so each book entry is done quickly. The full set of books can be exported to an Excel file for use with a CMS such as PastPerfect.

Suggestion 3e:  If Internet display of Frazer Nash photographs is a high priority, use a Greenstone archive, but only if/when the photographs are identified with "embedded metadata".  Greenstone does not "manage" and data export is very limited, but Greenstone will directly import and categorize photos that have embedded metadata. If this step is done first, you have "do it once and never again!" situation.  See this section above for Frazer Nash-specific experience.

Frazer Nash Bibliography

An updated bibliography was published in March, 2016.  Any additions or corrections are appreciated!

Email me with any questions or comments: Bob Schmitt,