Frequently Asked Questions


Have a question you want answered but don't see the answer here? Submit your question on the Contact page and someone will get back to you promptly.


Who was John Wymer and where did these photographs come from?

John Wymer was a California native who moved to Washington, DC in the 1930s. He worked at the Bureau of Standards and devoted about 4 years worth of his free time to this project. He donated the collection to the Historical Society of Washington, DC in 1978. To read more about Wymer and his project, explore the Wymer Collection pages - John P. Wymer, About the Collection, Maps and Area Descriptions, and In his own words.

Who owns these photos?

These photographs are owned by the Historical Society of Washington, DC, a non-profit research and educational institution which collects, interprets, and shares the history of Washington, D.C. Visit the Rights and Permissions page for more information.

The Wymer's DC project is not owned by the Historical Society, but is owned and operated by an independent team, Jessica and Thomas Smith.

Can I print the photographs to use as art in my house?

Yes, high quality digital copies of the Wymer images may be obtained from the Historical Society of Washington, DC. Pricing depends upon image quality requested and intended use. See Rights and Permissions for more information.

Why was this project created?

This project was created as a case study for Jessica Richardson Smith's 2016 master's thesis in the Department of Anthropology at The George Washington University. She wanted to expand upon existing methods of digitally viewing historic image collections in order to provide a more immersive user experience.

To accomplish this, Jessica collaborated with Thomas G. Smith, a Python programmer, and they designed and produced a software template for overlaying historic images in Google Street View rather than simply plotting them on a map. This feature allows users to compare the historic image to a modern one which provides greater contextual information about the collection.

How were the photos placed?

Each photograph was manually located on the map, within Google Street View. Wymer listed the approximate geographic locations of each but due to urban changes, it was not always easy to find the exact location. Additionally, some of Wymer's photographs were taken in locations where Google Street View does not exist (witihin private property, on the grounds of National Parks, etc) and thus were not used.

I found an error on the map - who should I tell?

Thank you for your attention! Please submit the error via the form on the Contact page and the problem will be corrected.

How can I help this project?

Contact the Wymer's DC team via the form on the Contact page to see how you can help further this project. Also check out the volunteer section to see volunteer options.

Have all the photos been placed on the map?

The John Wymer Photograph Collection contains approximately 4,000 images. At this time, only about 2,300 of them have been scanned and only about 1,800 of them have been located on the map. However, more images are being placed every day.

I'm interested in FlipKit. Who do I contact?

FlipKit is a map interface with a built-in toggle mechanism which allows users to rapidly flip between modern Google Street View images and another image assemblage of their choice. FlipKit was designed in order to provide users with contextual foundation for an historic image collection.

If you are interested in obtaining the software template to use for your own set of images, please send your information / request via the form on the Contact page.