Saturday, November 21, 2009

Archiving the Collection News by Mary Lawler

The work has begun on digitally archiving the collection of The South Hadley Historic Society. After the coding system was established, work began on the photograph and post card collection. Each piece is being scanned, numbered and organized, and being returned to an archival environment where necessary. Throughout the process all records will be archived to CD.

This process is necessary to ensure that future generations will have access to information and images, when investigating their genealogy, writing articles or papers, and for research by historians and archivists. Many pieces in collections are facing ruin especially paper and fabric that is not encapsulated. Light, air pollution, and inherent acids are slowly destroying these items. The archiving process not only digitally records these pieces but also provides an opportunity to store them in an archival manner, if it has not already been done.

Addressing some of the concerns raised about the process, every photograph, paper or object in the collection will be handled with the utmost care. Objects in the collection that are of questionable historic value will be set aside but will not be disposed of without the Board of Directors review and vote after the archiving process is completed.

These records are not intended to be posted on the Internet, advertising what the Society has custody of, rather, the records be available in digital format when requested. One image was recently published by The Ensign on Page 20: A brief history of the South Hadley Inclined Plane Canal.  Digital archives also insure the information and images are preserved in case of any damage by fire, water or accident.

It is expected the entire project will span a three-year period, in part because it is volunteer driven.  At this writing, only three people are working on the process and many more are needed. Computer skills are not necessary for many of the tasks and all help is welcome. If you are interested in learning about archiving, or have some archiving or photography experience and would like to help, email Mary Lawler at

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