A photograph imaging system presents a unique set of requirements for indexing and retrieving images, unlike a standard imaging system for written documents. This paper presents the requirements, technical design, and development results for a hierarchical ANSI standard thesaurus embedded into a photograph archival system. The thesaurus design incorporates storage reduction techniques, permits fast searches, and contains flexible indexing methods. It can be extended to many applications other than the retrieval of photographs. When photographic images are indexed into an electronic system, they are subject to a variety of indexing problems based on what the indexer `sees.' For instance, the indexer may categorize an image as a boat when others might refer to it as a ship, sailboat, or raft. The thesaurus will allow a user to locate images containing any synonym for boat, regardless of how the image was actually indexed. In addition to indexing problems, photos may need to be retrieved based on a broad category, for instance, flowers. The thesaurus allows a search for `flowers' to locate all images containing a rose, hibiscus, or daisy, yet still allow a specific search for an image containing only a rose. The technical design and method of implementation for such a thesaurus is presented. The thesaurus is implemented using an SQL relational data base management system that supports blobs, binary large objects. The design incorporates unique compression methods for storing the thesaurus words. Words are indexed to photographs using the compressed word and allow for very rapid searches, eliminating lengthy string matches.