This digital archive features curated photos taken by ordinary Iowans across the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The photos represent the personal, whimsical, poetic, significant, and accidentally artistic moments of everyday Iowa life, and exhibit the richness, diversity, and complexity of Iowa’s past. The online collection is called FORTEPAN IOWA because it is the first international sister site to the Hungarian FORTEPAN project, founded by Miklós Tamási and Ákos Szepessy in 2009. They chose the word FORTEPAN from the name of a global brand of Hungarian photographic film made from 1922 to 2007.
Because all FORTEPAN IOWA images are available for free public download and carry a Creative Commons (CC-BY-SA 4.0 International Public) License, the open-source platform is meant to inspire visitors to engage digitally with the high-quality images—a rare opportunity in a heavily copyrighted age, and a significant contribution to the digital humanities, history education, and digital literacy. In addition to traditional photo archives that arrange images according to collection donor or subject matter, the FORTEPAN interface also conveys history chronologically, which makes it easier to explore.
FORTEPAN IOWA launched in March 2015 under the direction of Bettina Fabos, Leisl Carr-Childers, Sergey Golitsynskiy, and Noah Doely, all professors at the University of Northern Iowa. The project has been funded in part by a UNI Capacity Building grant, a Humanities Iowa Grant, and the UNI College of Humanities, Arts and Sciences.