Thursday, October 27, 2011

Three Cheers for Digitization

Archivist friends frequently remind me that you can’t find EVERYTHING online—and they also point out that looking at a digitized primary source is never as satisfying as examining the real thing, in person. I agree wholeheartedly and cheer every time I hear about students conducting research at their county historical society, or here in Helena. And yet—I’m amazed at how much primary source material is being digitized. What a great boon that is for researchers (students and otherwise.)

Here are two recently completed digitization projects of potential interest to Montana students and teachers:

The Minnesota Historical Society has just digitized an entire series regarding Glacier National Park in the Louis W. Hill manuscript collection, including visitor statistics, park brochures, hotel blueprints, and park maps. The bulk of the content digitized is dated between 1910 and 1930.

Liberty County Library has added more than 5,000 Liberty County obituaries from 1905 to 2010 to the Montana Memory Project.  Just search the index—the first item in the collection—for a surname and you’ll be directed to the “binder” containing that obituary.

And here’s an ongoing digitization project worth noting:

The Library of Congress’s digital newspaper site Chronicling America now includes the following Montana newspapers:
•      Over 1,000 issues of the daily Anaconda Standard (1889 to September 1892)
•       The complete run of the weekly Virginia City, Mont., Montana Post (1864-69)
•       Over 2,000 issues of the Miles City, Mont., Daily Yellowstone Journal (1884-90)

In total, the site now hosts more than 18,000 pages from historical Montana papers, with 32,000 more expected by December 2011. The text of every page is searchable. Just type in a word or phrase and instantly retrieve all newspaper pages on which it appears.

Happy researching.

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