Searching for images: The analysis of users' queries for image retrieval in American history

Youngok Choi, Edie M. Rasmussen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

113 Scopus citations


Users' queries for visual information in American history were studied to identify the image attributes important for retrieval and the characteristics of users' queries for images. The queries were collected from 38 faculty and graduate students of American history in 1999 in a local setting. Pre- and post-test questionnaires and interview were employed to gather users' requests and search terms. The Library of Congress American Memory photo archive was used to search for images. Thirty-eight natural language statements, 185 search terms provided by the participants, and 219 descriptors indicated by the participants in relevant retrieved records were analyzed to find the distribution of subject content of users' queries. Over half of the search requests fell into the category "general/nameable needs." It was also found that most image content was described in terms of kind of person, thing, event, or condition depending on location or time. Title, date, and subject descriptors were mentioned as appropriate representation of image subject content. The result of this study suggests the principle categories of search terms for users in American history, suggesting directions for the development of indexing tools and system design for image retrieval systems.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)498-511
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Apr 2003

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Information Systems
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Computer Networks and Communications
  • Artificial Intelligence


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