Use Tropy if...

  • You have primarily handwritten documents that will require transcription
  • You already have a ton of research photos in JPG format that you want to organize and sort
  • You need a method to acquire a lot of materials from archives quickly and will sort them later
  • You are looking at maps or images that require detail work to analyze

Tropy for Photo Management



Tropy is a free and open-source tool that allows you to organize and describe photographs of research materials. Like Zotero, it was developed at The Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media at George Mason University. If your plan is to take massive amounts of photos in the archives and need a way to view and organize them at home, this might be the tool for you

  • Group your photos into documents
  • Attach descriptive metadata, notes, or transcriptions to your photos
  • Tag your photos however you want
  • Search all of your information, notes, and tags
  • Export your collections to JSON-LD or Omeka-S

Using Tropy & Zotero Together

Currently Tropy and Zotero do not talk to each other (but will in the future, although there is no current timeline). When you start to write, you will still have to figure out how cite your sources in your document. It is possible to use Zotero to cite primary sources, so you can create an item record in Zotero, or use a generic template for the archival collection and individually modify each citation. No matter what, you need to keep track of the following information:

  • Repository
  • Collection Number and Name
  • Box
  • Folder
  • Individual document


Why Tropy?

  • Researchers often come back from research trips overwhelmed by the amount of material with no way to organize it
  • Zotero does not work well for mass photo storage for archival research (although there are other workarounds)

Video overview of Tropy

How to use Tropy

Pros of Tropy

  • Mass import but small in size (does not duplicate)
  • Easily combine photos to make them a single document
  • Sort and read photos before making decisions about whether the information will be used further
  • Side-by-side view allows for easier transcription of handwritten documents
  • Use built-in metadata templates or create custom templates
  • Add/edit metadata in bulk

Tropy Drawbacks

  • Tropy only works with image file types (JPG and TIFF) and not PDFs
  • Tropy does not have built-in OCR
  • Tropy does not capture metadata to create citations; it must be manually entered
  • Tropy cannot export or sync with Zotero. Notes taken in Tropy would need to be copied and pasted to Zotero.
  • Tropy does not create citations from its metadata.