Early in 2017, Adam Matthew, a database vendor known for its collections of digitized historical primary sources, will release a new collection called Race Relations. The database will offer access to a trove of previously undigitized civil rights material from the Race Relations Department of the United Church Board for Homeland Ministries, 1943–70, an organization that was based at Fisk University in Nashville and whose records are now housed at the Amistad Center at Tulane University in New Orleans. Chianta Dorsey, an archivist at the Amistad Center, explains, “The formal program of the department began in 1943 as a forum to engage in a national discussion regarding numerous topics including racial and ethnic relationships, economics, education, government policy, housing and employment.”
Portions of the New York Public Library’s (NYPL) “Photographic Views of New York City, 1870’s–1970’s” collection have been available online for several years. But views of the collection have mushroomed during the past two weeks, thanks to the launch of OldNYC.org, a website that overlays photo locations on a Google Maps interface, enabling visitors to explore the collection by zooming, dragging, and clicking their way around an online map of the city. The new site was independently created by software engineer Dan Vanderkam using the Google Maps API, data provided by NYPL, and open source photo and text extraction programs that he wrote himself and has made available on GitHub.
In 2012, then-U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) librarian Jenna Nolt spent six months researching a mysterious volume of photographs called found in the USGS’s rare book room in Reston, VA. It proved to be a record of the imperial regalia of the Romanov czars. By comparing the photos against the official inventory of Russian crown jewels, says Nolt, “I was able to determine that there were several pieces of jewelry depicted in our volume that were not in the official inventory and that had been lost to history for almost a hundred years.”
Ryan Cordell, Northeastern University (NU), Boston, and his colleagues are studying how information went “viral” in 19th-century America, when newspapers and periodicals published short works of fiction, poetry, and other prose. Before modern copyright law, it was common for editors to reprint these texts, originally published elsewhere. The texts moved around the country through this network, resulting in a shared print culture. Cordell’s research seeks to identify these shared texts, to examine which were reprinted and why, and to map how they traveled and changed as they passed from publication to publication.
Primary sources publisher Adam Matthew Digital, an imprint of SAGE Publications, launched its newest digital collection in September. Apartheid South Africa, sourced from The National Archives (TNA), London, offers comprehensive coverage of previously classified files from the Apartheid Governments of South Africa. LJ recently spoke to Martin Drewe, Senior Publisher at Adam Matthew and the key person in the National Archives relationship, about this new project, the process of working with TNA material, and the documentary the two produced about the making of the collection.
The American Museum of Natural History’s (AMNH) research library last month hosted the official launch of its new online image database for Digital Special Collections. Begun as a project to digitize 1,000 of the museum’s photos and rare book illustrations, the Digital Special Collections program has evolved into a long-term project that will offer the public free online access to the museum’s research library collection. The new database includes more than 7,000 archival images, including photographs from 19th century scientific expeditions and illustrations from rare books dating back to the 16th century.
With the help of Operation Photo Rescue, a non-profit, volunteer network of photographers, image restoration artists, and graphic designers, Fondulac District Library (FDL), IL, recently launched “Saving Memories,” a program to help community members digitize and restore photographs that were damaged when 24 tornadoes touched down in Illinois on the night of November 17.
From the DPLA Blog: The HathiTrust Digital Library will partner with the recently launched Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) to expand discovery and use of HathiTrust’s public domain and other openly available content.