Hurray! We just received our official award letter from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission, the granting arm of the National Archives. This $35,000 grant is going to fund the digitization of eleven manuscripts collections that have already been microfilmed. Microfilm is still the best option for preserving manuscript collections, but we all know how people HATE using microfilm. By digitizing the film we make the collections more available both here and on the web. The goal is to add the scanned collections to Connecticut History Online.Microfilm is still the medium of choice for preservation purposes. You can always “read” a microfilm reel using a light box and a magnifying glass. But what happens when the software or the hardware on your computer or your network is updated and no longer reads your digital files? Or the files get corrupted? No light box is going to help you there.
The collections we are scanning include some of those that are most heavily used including the papers of Native American preacher Samson Occum, diplomat Silas Deane, Oliver Wolcott Sr., Jonathan Trumbull Jr., and the American Revolution collection. While there are other collections we could have included, the ones selected all date from before to just a bit after the American Revolution and illustrate Connecticut’s role in the formation of our country. We were able to make the case for the national significance of the collections, one criteria for the federal grant.
NHPRC has been a great partner in the past few years, helping us catalog the backlog of manuscripts and now helping us get important collections online. We owe them a huge thank you.