Skip to Main Content


A guide to library resources in North American and European history

Managing personal research images

Personal archiving platforms can help you organize research materials and record descriptive data as you build personal collections of images and PDFs.

There are many platforms that can be used to manage your personal research archives, but Tropy, from the makers of Zotero, is one that is designed specifically for historians. Tropy is a free, open-access tool.

Advantages of Tropy:

  • Great for organizing large numbers of photos taken on your phone during archival field trips.
  • Best for a large project, such as a book or dissertation, rather than a chapter.
  • Helps keep track of repositories' rights statements with a mandatory field in the default template.
  • Custom templates may be created to log location (repository, collection, box and folder) of specific documents.

Drawbacks of Tropy:

  • Does not have built-in OCR capabilities
  • Does not have image editing capabilities
  • Does not support audio or video files at this time
  • Citations must be manually entered
  • Cannot export or sync with Zotero. Notes taken in Tropy would need to be copied and pasted to Zotero.

The Library and the Visual Resources Center in the Art History department have prepared some additional documentation on Tropy and two other personal tools for image management--Aries and Airtable. Visit our guide to Personal Image Archiving Tools to learn more about the platforms and best practices for file-naming. You can also view fully-functioning demonstration sites, and get help determining which tool or tools is best suited for your needs.