An image of a blue card catalog is shown behind a black banner that reads

Online Course: Basics of Archives

Course Description

The newly revised Basics of Archives online course is designed to give organizations and individuals who are responsible for the care of historical records an introduction to the core aspects of managing and protecting historical records collections, using appropriate principles and best practices.

The course consists of seven lessons:

  • Archives and Archivists
  • Acquiring Your Collections
  • Processing Collections
  • Housing Your Collections
  • Access and Outreach
  • Digital Records
  • Digitization


COURSE DATES: January 27 - March 1, 2020

COST: $85 AASLH Members / $160 Nonmembers

OPEN REGISTRATION: November 1, 2019 - January 19, 2020


Course Logistics

FORMAT: Online, self-paced course with instructor feedback

LENGTH: 5 weeks; 15-20 hours to be completed anytime during the five-week course period (dates above).

PARTICIPATION STYLE: Online chat. There are no required times to be online.

MATERIALS: There are no required texts for this course. All materials will be provided.

Who Should Take This Course

This course is a beginning level course designed for professional staff and volunteers of historical organizations and libraries with historical collections who have little to no experience with archival materials.


Charlie Arp has a BA and MA in history from Ohio University where he specialized in archival studies. From 1991 to 2003 he worked at the Ohio Historical Society (OHS) where he held a variety of positions including archival processor, reference archivist, Head of Reference, Assistant State Archivist and State Archivist. As Assistant State Archivist he was the digital projects coordinator and he formed and chaired the Ohio Electronic Records Committee, an interdisciplinary group formed to draft electronic records policy, guidelines, and best practices for state and local governments in Ohio.  As State Archivist he was a senior level manager responsible for the planning, coordination, and administration of the operations of the State Archives including the Local Government Records program and the Youngstown Historical Center of Industry and Labor Archives/Library.

In 2003 Charlie was hired by the Battelle Memorial Institute as Enterprise Content Manager. At Battelle Charlie pioneered managing electronic records in lieu of paper records. Charlie also supervised the Good Laboratory Practices (GLP) archives. GLP records fall under FDA regulations to ensure that the records documenting scientific research for substances put in or on humans are created reliably and maintained authentically over time. In 2015 Charlie tested and validated the use of an electronic management program to enable Battelle to create, manage, preserve and use electronic records as part of submissions to the FDA.

In early 2016 Charlie accepted an offer for early retirement from Battelle. Since then he has started an archival and records management consulting firm and authored Archival Basics: A Practical Manual for Working with Historical Collections (Rowman & Littlefield, 2019).

Participant Feedback

“This course was exactly what we need to improve our rather small Collection and take it to another step. Thanks for all of the ideas and information. I am especially impressed with how well the course is organized and presented online. The site was very well thought out and presented no problems for me – a slightly challenged computer geek-wanna be.”

“This was a marvelous course and now I have confidence that I can do the work: material to reference and people to communicate with as needed.”

“I just wanted to say thank you for having this course.  It has really helped me decide what direction I want to make my education in and had definitely helped me with some of the smaller preservation jobs I take on at the library.”

A group of students observe and point at a microfilm reader.

Citizen Historians, U.S. Newspapers, and the History of the Holocaust

This article is from the Winter 2019 issue of History News, AASLH's quarterly magazine. Members can access the full issue in the Resource Center.

A group of students observe and point at a microfilm reader.

By David Klevan and Eric Schmalz

On the eve of America’s entry into World War II, Fajwal “Fred” Hendeles appeared with a broad smile and a dozen roses at the Kaiser shipyards in Richmond, California, seeking employment. Hendeles, a Jewish refugee from German-occupied Poland, had escaped a German forced labor camp, fleeing to Shanghai via the Soviet Union and Japan. On September 28, 1941, he boarded the S.S. President Pierce as a stowaway bound for San Francisco. The ship manifest listed Hendeles as an “indigent” with no passport or visa. He entered the country with support from the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society and the Kaiser shipyards provided Hendeles with employment as a steamfitter. Two months later, the United States was at war.

Hendeles’s story—uncovered by volunteers working with the Richmond Museum of History in Richmond, California—is one of many that have emerged from the nationwide “citizen history” project, History Unfolded: U.S. Newspapers and the Holocaust. Publicly launched by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in early 2016, History Unfolded invites people across the country to research how their local newspapers reported on Holocaust-related events during the 1930s and 1940s. Project participants share their discoveries by uploading findings to a searchable online database. The museum has used this data to support exhibitions, educational resources and programs, and hopes it will be used to support future scholarship.

The idea for History Unfolded emerged in 2014, when staff gathered to discuss the Holocaust Museum’s new initiative on Americans and the Holocaust. Like previous initiatives, Americans would include new scholarly research and a special exhibition, then scheduled to open in spring 2018. However, the small team gathered that day sought to inject something new. Rather than the museum performing research, mounting an exhibition, and then developing educational resources and programs, what if the museum asked schools and the public to perform research ahead of the exhibition launch—research that might help shape the exhibition and even future scholarship on the topic?

What if the museum asked schools and the public to perform research ahead of the exhibition launch—research that might help shape the exhibition and even future scholarship on the topic?

This approach was ambitious, but it made sense. An investigation of reporting by local newspapers in American communities had never before been pursued on this scale. It offered the museum a unique opportunity to investigate an otherwise distant and sometimes abstract “European” history of the Holocaust by making it American and local in a very concrete way. This would also allow the museum to engage learners in the discovery process, uncovering what information was available to members of their communities about the threat of Nazism and the Holocaust during the 1930s and 1940s. Thus, it could reinforce understanding that while the Holocaust took place in Europe, it was also an American story.

As a participatory “citizen history” project of national scope, History Unfolded offered additional opportunities for the museum. First, because the museum itself does not house the newspaper collections used for this research, it was necessary to do research in the field. Second, the broad research scope and wide dispersal of sources would have made it difficult to do this without a crowdsourcing element. Third, and most importantly, the project offers an excellent opportunity for students and the broader public to learn about history by learning how to do primary source research.

In 2014, the concept of “citizen history” was relatively new. Prior to using the phrase to describe one of their projects in 2005, Holocaust Museum staff had never seen it used elsewhere. For Holocaust Museum staff, citizen history is more than crowdsourced data collection.1 Rather, it builds upon the existing research and collections of an institution, and at its best, encourages amateurs and enthusiasts to formulate authentic research questions and helps them learn the process for answering them. This engagement with citizen historians may also enhance the reputation and authority of local history institutions, promote access to their digital collections, and help to grow their communities of stakeholders, both virtual and in-person.2

Because participants in History Unfolded learn while contributing to a large national effort on behalf of a trusted institution, they tend to express high degrees of commitment and self-motivation and appreciate the opportunity to do meaningful work. Therefore, museum staff viewed citizen history as a win-win. Participants could learn about the Holocaust while developing authentic research skills, a love of history, and a strengthened affinity for the museum and its mission. In turn, the museum would compile large quantities of data to help shape an exhibition, programs, and resources. In the process, the museum also would develop a dedicated corps of institutional stakeholders around the country.

A woman observes a digital exhibition panel displaying a newspaper article from the World War II era.

The Holocaust Museum’s decision to launch a large scale, multi-year citizen history project was not without risks and challenges. One key challenge was how best to help participants access widely dispersed collections, typically on microfilm and of varying quality. Unsurprisingly, a major determinant of the breadth and scope of newspaper articles submitted to History Unfolded from any particular state corresponds to whether the state’s historical newspaper collections have been digitized and are easily accessible online. However, most local newspaper collections from the 1930s and 1940s are available only on microfilm or in hard copy, and some collections are incomplete. Typically, the collections are housed in local or state libraries, university libraries, or historical societies. Therefore, the active participation of organizations housing the collections is critical to the project’s success.

In addition, many citizen historians are not familiar with microfilm technology, and many young citizen historians are unfamiliar with print newspapers altogether. Therefore, the History Unfolded website provides participants with guidance on where to find print newspaper collections, how their information is organized, and how to use a microfilm reader. The project website also provides scaffolding for the research process itself, focusing the research of citizen historians. History Unfolded has identified more than thirty Holocaust-related events of specific interest to the museum for citizen historians to use as a guiding framework for research in their local newspapers. A short historical summary is provided for each event, as well as date ranges and keyword search suggestions. When citizen historians find an article, they are prompted to upload their finding, along with specific metadata such as page number, date, headline, and author. All submissions are reviewed by staff and volunteers, who frequently provide feedback to participants on their research.

Despite the challenges associated with access to collections and learning how to perform research with historical newspapers, History Unfolded has enjoyed significant success. This is due largely to the museum’s willingness to dedicate staff and volunteers to engage project participants. The museum invested in a full-time community manager dedicated solely to the History Unfolded project. This fostered a regular flow of communication between citizen historians and the museum, enhanced participant engagement, and resulted in a high rate of retention. Educators whose students participate in the project tend to return with new classes year after year. History buffs, who contribute the bulk of submissions to the project, continue to participate months, or even years, later. When tasked with specific research assignments, such citizen historians typically respond with zeal and take pride in the museum’s reliance upon their participation.

When tasked with specific research assignments, such citizen historians typically respond with zeal and take pride in the museum’s reliance upon their participation.

In three years, over ten thousand individuals, one-fifth of whom are educators, have created accounts on the History Unfolded website. Roughly 30 percent of registrants have submitted data to the project, and as of September 2018, almost fifteen thousand articles from newspapers in all fifty states (plus Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico) have been indexed in the project’s online database. The Holocaust Museum has organized community events called “research sprints” to focus citizen historians on the investigation of reporting about specific Holocaust-related events or newspapers from specific communities. Research sprints are organized events during which groups of citizen historians gather—sometimes in person at a library, archive, or historical society, other times virtually—to research one or more History Unfolded events in a specific collection of newspapers. Previous research sprints have generated content, such as letters-to-the-editor advocating for and against the Wagner-Rogers Bill of 1939, some of which appear in the museum’s special exhibition, Americans and the Holocaust, that opened in April 2018.

Research by citizen historians has provided visual evidence that illustrates the context in which Americans learned about Nazi persecution and murder of European Jews. For example, major public events that shocked the conscience—such as the Nazi boycott of Jewish businesses in April 1933 and the Kristallnacht pogrom of November 1938—often were reported on front pages in communities large and small throughout the United States. These stories ran for several days or even weeks, but they did not appear in a vacuum. The Nazi boycott shared space on the front page with President Roosevelt’s order to cut veterans’ benefits, efforts to repeal Prohibition, New Deal projects, developments in the Scottsboro Boys case, and devastating storms that killed scores of people across the South.

In many communities across the United States, information about the Holocaust was available, but it was not always prominent, and coverage was often ephemeral. Once America entered the war, the attention of Americans shifted, understandably, to the progress of the war.

Indeed, after U.S. entry into the war in 1942, front pages were dominated by news related to the war effort. Stories about the Nazi plan to kill all Jews (the “Final Solution”) appeared in many American newspapers the day before Thanksgiving (November 25, 1942); the top story in many papers that day was that the Soviets finally had broken the siege at Stalingrad and nearly encircled the German army. The Allies’ public condemnation of the “Final Solution” appeared December 17, 1942, one week before Christmas. It was not uncommon to find these articles on interior pages of newspapers printed beside advertisements for turkeys and holiday sales. The History Unfolded project has helped both the museum and the public learn more about the specific contexts in which many Americans learned about the Holocaust and Nazism.

There is still much to learn from History Unfolded. With a more comprehensive data set, staff at the museum look forward to analyzing and comparing coverage across communities—in university newspapers, Jewish and Catholic newspapers, African American newspapers, newspapers large and small, urban and rural.

Two African American women are seen looking through boxes of microfilm in a drawer.

In addition to its broad appeal among educators, History Unfolded offers librarians, archivists, and staff at historical societies ample opportunities to meet their institutional objectives. Some of the most innovative approaches to and most exciting outcomes from the project have come from special programs in which libraries and historical societies have engaged staff and volunteers to investigate collections.

The Richmond Museum of History in Richmond, California, for example, began its participation in History Unfolded in 2016. Staff there were curious to find out what information about the Holocaust, if any, was available to the local community—home to the Kaiser Shipyards, which made significant home front contributions to the war effort during WWII. Were the men who built the ships aware of Nazi persecution and murder of European Jews? Or were their eyes solely on the Pacific theatre? The museum placed advertisements in the local Jewish newspaper and invited members of a nearby synagogue to participate in volunteer research using the museum’s collections of historical newspapers. Eventually, they expanded research beyond just what their community might have known about the Holocaust to an exploration of the history of Jewish Richmond and surrounding Contra Costa County, resulting in a new exhibit that opened in January 2019 documenting the Jewish history of the city and surrounding region. The exhibition includes the aforementioned story of Fred Hendeles and the local press response to the Holocaust.3

Some of the most innovative approaches to and most exciting outcomes from the project have come from special programs in which libraries and historical societies have engaged staff and volunteers to investigate collections.

Other institutions took different approaches to the project, but with similarly productive results. Jill Weiss Simins, a historian at the Indiana Historical Bureau, viewed participation in the project as an opportunity to “help make sure that the lessons and warnings of the Holocaust are not forgotten” and to “make Holocaust history more accessible [and] relevant to Hoosiers, who sometimes feel removed from national conversations.” Weiss Simins worked with intern Jenna Auber to upload content to the History Unfolded website, featuring their findings in the Hoosier State Chronicle blog. At the suggestion of the History Unfolded community manager Eric Schmalz, Weiss Simins and Auber recruited a small, highly engaged group of citizen historians from local universities for a research sprint to investigate Holocaust events in the two Indiana newspapers with the largest circulation in 1940 and upload entries for each to the History Unfolded database.

Similarly, for Natasha Hollenbach, Digital Projects Librarian at the Montana Historical Society, History Unfolded offered a way to make her collections more visible and available to scholars. After first digitizing and uploading articles from the historical society collection, Hollenbach set up internal “research sprints” for her colleagues. She started small, asking for a few hours of staff time and maintaining a flexible schedule. Hollenbach made sure everyone knew they were welcome regardless of experience, both on the project and with the microfilm readers; this ensured a continuing number of new converts to the project and extended word of mouth advertising about how much fun it was. Through the staff sprints and Hollenbach’s individual contributions, the Montana Historical Society has uploaded hundreds of Montana newspaper articles.

Participation by public history organizations has proven critical to the success of the History Unfolded project. Their ability to engage local communities in research, discovery, and learning has made significant contributions to the breadth and diversity of local reporting indexed in the museum’s database. Of equal importance, this participation has made local collections and local history more visible, and has allowed staff, volunteers, and members of the public to learn about their community’s role in Holocaust history.

A close up image of a smart phone in front of a microfilm reader, demonstrating the app used to upload newspaper articles for the exhibition.

History Unfolded has demonstrated its potential as an engaging education tool that teaches valuable research skills and encourages critical thinking. During the project’s first three years, the Holocaust Museum has indexed more than fifteen thousand entries for newspaper articles submitted by citizen historians across the country in a searchable online database. This can only be viewed as a major accomplishment and a successful beginning. However, half of these submissions came from newspapers published in only eight states (primarily in what today would be called “the Rust Belt”).

For the project to function as a representative index of American news reporting, and to maximize its value for historical institutions and scholars, a consistent minimum data sample must be collected across all fifty states. In an effort to achieve this goal, the museum instructs participants to research newspaper reporting about a specific limited set of Holocaust-related events. It aims to compile a per state sample of at least one data submission for each Holocaust-related event for the two newspapers with the highest circulation in 1940. This should provide a minimum level of consistent data across states and allow for meaningful state-to-state comparisons of reporting at the time.

The museum will continue to accept research submitted to History Unfolded through summer 2021.Therefore, libraries, archives, and historical societies have ample time to lend their expertise and ensure that their communities are represented in the project results. In 2021, the museum plans to shift the project focus from collecting new data to synthesizing and analyzing the compiled data. Correspondingly, the Holocaust Museum expects to provide tools that will allow citizen historians, Holocaust historians, and digital humanities scholars to filter, sort, and analyze the data in order to evaluate trends and anomalies and draw conclusions about this history based on the accumulated evidence.

Though the Holocaust took place primarily in Europe, the research of citizen historians from around the United States makes clear that it is also an American story. It was told in front page headlines, editorials, letters-to-the-editor, and political cartoons of local newspapers from Richmond, California, to Helena, Montana, to Indianapolis, Indiana. By examining the information available to Americans, the stories we chose to tell, and the opinions we published, we learn as much about who we were as Americans as we do about how Americans responded to the Holocaust.

David Klevan is Education Outreach Specialist in the Levine Institute for Holocaust Education at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum where he develops educational resources and programs for a diverse group of audiences. Mr. Klevan specializes in experiential learning in online and digital learning environments. He earned his bachelor’s degree in Sociology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison (1990) and his master’s degree in Education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education (2004). Contact David at [email protected]

Eric Schmalz is the community manager for the History Unfolded project at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. He oversees the review of newspaper submissions to the project website, assists participants with their questions, and helps educators effectively incorporate History Unfolded into various learning environments. Mr. Schmalz specializes in developing and deepening authentic human connection through his work. He earned his bachelor’s degree in History at the College of William and Mary (2010) and his master’s degree in Teaching (Secondary Social Studies) at the University of Virginia (2011). Contact Eric at [email protected]

[1] There are several excellent examples of cultural institutions using crowdsourcing to transcribe and index historical documents. For example: “The World Memory Project,” US Holocaust Memorial Museum, accessed January 29, 2019,; “Transcription Center,” Smithsonian Institution, accessed January 29, 2019,; “Citizen Archivist Project,” National Archives and Records Administration, last reviewed November 7, 2018,; and “Operation War Diary,” Imperial War Museum and National Archives, accessed January 29, 2019,

[2] Elissa Frankle, “Making History with the Masses: Citizen History and Racial Trust in Museums,” Digital Dialogues, Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities, April 4, 2013,

[3] Fajwal “Fred” Hendeles became an American. He married, had children, and lived the rest of his life in California. He died at age 91 in Los Angeles.

This article is from the Winter 2019 issue of History News, AASLH's quarterly magazine. Members can access the full issue in the Resource Center.

A row of archival shelving.

Book Review: Digital Preservation Essentials

This review originally appeared in the Spring 2018 issue of History News.

Digital Preservation Essentials
By Erin O'Meara and Kate Stratton (Christopher J. Prom, ed.)

(Chicago, Society of American Archivists, 2016)
Reviewed by Donna J. Baker

The Trends in Archival Practice series extends core archival knowledge and promotes best practices by providing specific instruction and advice for subjects too complex to address in general archive fundamentals texts. A subject as complex and intimidating as digital preservation demands such a module. Digital objects are an everyday part of the archivist’s work, and regardless of the origin or format, must receive the appropriate levels of appraisal, description, arrangement, and preservation as would any other acquisition to the archival repository. Digital Preservation Essentials places the processing of digital material squarely within everyday practice, not as an afterthought.

Erin O’Meara, head of the Office of Digital Innovation and Stewardship at the University of Arizona Libraries, and Kate Stratton, collection development archivist at the Gates Archive, are the authors for Digital Preservation Essentials, comprised of “Module 12: Preserving Digital Objects” and “Module 13: Digital Preservation Storage.”  Each module lays out best practices, demonstrates the application of accepted practice, and recommends workflows and other requirements for achieving implementing practice for archivists. Each module has its own glossary, allowing readers to have vocabulary support and the ability to enhance knowledge without completely disengaging from the material to look up words or concepts. The modules also have appendices for further reading and case studies to demonstrate how archivists might move from the module to implementation in their repositories.  Diagrams and charts are used sparingly but effectively.  Altogether, this text is only 135 pages in length, suggesting that the focus is truly on the practical information required by practitioners, not on theoretical concepts that can overwhelm.

The takeaway of these modules is that it is essential that archivists take proactive, systematic action right now to preserve digital objects. Archivists and public historians of all kinds know that data is lost by obsolescence and poor application of preservation standards. Those tasked with managing archives must create meaningful workflows now and stop postponing digital preservation, no matter how daunting or expensive such work can seem.

While I recommend this book to archivists with a bit of training and experience in digital preservation, I do not recommend it as a means to gain digital preservation expertise to cultural heritage caretakers who have had the title of “archivist” thrust upon them. These modules are neither designed for, nor directed to, novices. That stated, the recommended readings sections are useful to anyone wanting to know more about digital preservation. They are excellent core resources on digital preservation theory and practice, and also provide novices and/or smaller institutions with limited resources the vocabulary required to reach out to experts and form collaborative digital projects together.


Donna J. Baker is the University Archivist for Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. Prior to this, she was Head of Special Collections and Archives and curator of the Appalachia-Kentucky Collection at Morehead State University in Morehead, Kentucky.  She received her MA in History from Eastern Illinois University and her MSLS from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  She can be reached at [email protected]

Are you interested in contributing reviews to History News? Apply here.

Digital History Company Plans to Create Interactive Digital Version of the Library from American Philosophy: A Love Story

One of the year’s best books is a beautifully written story about books – specifically, a lost collection of priceless tomes with inscriptions and margin notes by many of the greatest philosophers of the 20th century. Now the library made famous in John J. Kaag’s American Philosophy: A Love Story is on track to be brought to life through technology.

americanphilosophy_custom-2e099ff24c575195c29cf1a1f49d5b799983d01b-s400-c85A Kickstarter project has been started to raise the funds so that my company, HistoryIT, can recreate the William Ernest Hocking library as an interactive digital space where visitors can peruse the shelves and open books to read the text and the book owners’ notes or inscriptions.
Hocking was an early 20th century philosophy professor, and his library became a repository for the collections of many of his mentors and colleagues. Among the treasures are first editions of works by Descartes, Locke, and Kant, and signed copies of books by Ralph Waldo Emerson, Walt Whitman and Robert Frost.

Kaag, also a philosophy professor, discovered the neglected library in rural New Hampshire at a point when he was undergoing a personal transformation. American Philosophy: A Love Story documents not only Kaag’s reflections on the philosophers, novelists and poets whose work he finds at the Hocking library, but also the evolving relationship with the woman who would become his second wife.

“Kaag hits the sweet spot between intellectual history and personal memoir in this transcendently wonderful love song to philosophy and its ability ‘to help individuals work through the trials of experience’" said a review by National Public Radio.

Tackling the next, digital chapter in this exciting tale is ambitious, given that Hocking’s original library held 10,000 titles. It also is a huge honor, and dovetails nicely with our recent projects for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and the Washington, D.C. Historical Society.

American Philosophy: A Love Story leaves readers wanting to interact with the library’s contents, so it’s a perfect opportunity to leverage our methodology.

Ernest Hocking's Library
Ernest Hocking's Library

Once the 60-day Kickstarter campaign is completed, I will lead a team of historians and technologists in creating interactive digital replicas of many of the 200 Hocking library books housed today at the University of Massachusetts, Lowell, where Kaag teaches. HistoryIT will create a digital version of the library where visitors can learn more about the 10,000 or so titles that were in the original library, as well as explore connections among the handwritten notes and inscriptions in the rare works.  Rewards for participating in the 60-day Kickstarter campaign range from a “thank you” message sent via social media ($20) to a 1,000-word essay by Kaag on a topic chosen by the donor ($2,000).



New Website Launched: 300 Journeys into Indiana's Past

AASLH Member Since 1941

The Indiana Historical Society (IHS) has launched its new Destination Indiana website, which will bring hundreds of the state’s stories to life in images and text for people from their home, office, classroom, or wherever their smartphones and tablets take them. The website,, is the latest in IHS’s series of Indiana Bicentennial projects. Guests to the Eugene and Marilyn Glick Indiana History Center and IHS’s Indiana Experience have been spellbound by Destination Indiana, an interactive opportunity for visitors to time-travel using innovative digital technology, touch screens and immersive displays of historic images and documents. Guests can explore and understand the places, ideas, people and game-changing contributions of Indiana.

Now, with the Destination Indiana website, users can also explore Indiana’s rich cultural heritage at home. Almost 300 “journeys” exploring more than 200 years of the state’s history have been drawn from IHS’s extensive collections of more than 1.7 million photographs and tens of thousands of documents and other archival items.

The website includes one journey for each of Indiana’s 92 counties, as well as themed journeys on subject matters such as ethnic heritage, Indiana’s military history, the Ohio River, mapping the state, social justice and reform, government, rail transportation, agriculture, art/artists, business/industry, sports, biographies and more. Each image’s caption is accompanied by optional audio of the text.

In addition to browsing, journeys of interest can be located by utilizing a keyword search, clicking on a map of the state or perusing a list of journey themes. Online guests are also free to share images on Facebook and Twitter, or via email. By creating a free account on the site, they can also save their favorite journeys and download higher-resolution images for personal or educational (non- commercial) use. Like the Indiana Experience version of Destination Indiana, new journeys will be added to the website twice each year.

The Destination Indiana website is a presentation of the Indiana Historical Society and is made possible by a generous gift from Care Institute Group, Inc. For more information on IHS programs, call (317) 232-1882 or visit our website.

About the Indiana Historical Society’s Bicentennial Efforts

IHS has been working diligently to create touch points for the community, tools for schools and educators, and assistance for local historical groups as the state’s bicentennial year of 2016 approaches. Just last month, IHS announced its Indiana Heritage Support Program, which will offer $2.5 million in grants to smaller Indiana historical organizations over the next five years as well as fundraising training and assistance. Other projects include the Indiana Bicentennial Train, Hoosiers: A New History of Indiana by James H. Madison (co-published with Indiana University Press), the educational supplemental text Hoosiers and the American Story by James H. Madison and Lee Ann Sandweiss, and a three-year series of regional bicentennial teacher training workshops. Additional programs and several books will be offered in 2015 and 2016.

About the Indiana Historical Society

Since 1830, the Indiana Historical Society has been Indiana’s Storyteller, connecting people to the past by collecting, preserving, interpreting and sharing the state’s history. A private, nonprofit membership organization, IHS maintains the nation’s premier research library and archives on the history of Indiana and the Old Northwest and presents a unique set of visitor exhibitions called the Indiana Experience. IHS also provides support and assistance to local museums and historical groups, publishes books and periodicals; sponsors teacher workshops; produces and hosts art exhibitions, museum theater and outside performance groups; and provides youth, adult and family programming. The Eugene and Marilyn Glick Indiana History Center, home of IHS and its Indiana Experience, is located at 450 W. Ohio St. in downtown Indianapolis. Operating hours for the History Center, including the William Henry Smith Memorial Library and the Indiana Experience, are Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Shaker Museum│Mount Lebanon Creates Digital Archive of Historic Photographs

AASLH Member Since 2001

The Shaker Museum│Mount Lebanon has launched a newly digitized online catalog of historic photography as a part of its ongoing effort to make available online a full catalog of its collections. The project has been supported by a $25,000 grant from the Leon Levy Foundation.

The museum’s catalog records and presents the richest historical information, including scenes of Shaker villages from the mid-late 19th Century, as well as a collection of stereograph images from this early period by James Irving, a Troy, NY-based photographer. Viewers are able to see a larger version of each image with accompanying historic information and details and from links in the online catalog can share the records with friends or contact the museum with comments or questions.  “We want to create an ongoing dialogue about these photographs, which are so important to understanding Shaker history,” said, Jerry Grant, the museum’s director of collections and research who oversaw the project.

The goals of the project included the digitization of 2,450 historic photographs. The catalog is made available using the PastPerfect platform, accessible from the library page on the museum’s website. In utilizing PastPerfect, the museum joins Hancock Shaker Village, Canterbury Shaker Village, Sabbathday Lake Shaker Village Museum, and the Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill in an effort to make catalog collections available online.

“The Leon Levy Foundation has been a leader in supporting efforts to make digital museum and archival information available online, and we are grateful to them for their funding of this project,”  said museum president, David Stocks.  “Our goal for this project is to create a dynamic tool that will be used by the general public, as well as scholars, researchers, and curators.”

The Leon Levy Foundation, founded in 2004, is a private, not-for-profit foundation created from the estate of Leon Levy, an investor with a longstanding commitment to philanthropy. The Foundation’s overarching goal is to support scholarship at the highest level, ultimately advancing knowledge and improving the lives of individuals and society at large. More information is available at

The Shaker Museum | Mount Lebanon, located in New Lebanon, Columbia County, New York, is dedicated to engaging and inspiring local, national, and global audiences by telling the story of the American Shakers. The museum’s collections span over 60,000 objects and it stewards the North Family historic site at Mount Lebanon, a National Historic Landmark. The museum is open seasonally at the site from June to October, and offers programs year-round.  Please visit for more information.

Mayflower Passages: Conservation Treatment and Digitization of the Bradford Manuscript, 1630-1650

AASLH Member Since 1982

Mayflower Passages: Conservation Treatment and Digitization of William Bradford's ‘Of Plimouth Plantation,’ 1630-1650

NEDCC recently provided conservation treatment and digitization for one of the great treasures of the State Library of Massachusetts and of the nation.  William Bradford’s Manuscript tells us who was on the Mayflower and contains the earliest surviving copy of the Mayflower Compact.

The State Library’s goals for the conservation and digitization of the Bradford Manuscript were to improve public access to this significant and well-loved resource, and to protect the volume from further deterioration. It was also important to address the many condition issues without significantly altering either the appearance of the book or the experience for a researcher using the book.

Learn more about the project on the NEDCC website.

Going Postal: Postcards as Local History

As a student, it isn’t very often that your projects go beyond the classroom and into the community. However, this is one aspect of my Historical Administration M.A. Program at Eastern Illinois University that I have enjoyed deeply. As part of the coursework in two of my classes (Research Methods in American Local History and Introduction to Archival Methods), I had the opportunity to develop a project that allowed me to strengthen my research skills, develop collections management skills, and practice digital methods. You may ask yourself: what project would lend itself to developing these skills?

It all started with the purchase of a few postcards from a local antique store last fall. A colleague of mine at a local museum had never seen these postcards of Lilacia Park in Lombard, Illinois before, so I decided to pick them up.  At the time I was also looking for a project for my methods course. The sources appeared in the form of the postcards, so I considered this as a potential project.

What began as 2 postcards turned into a growing personal collection and a partnership with the DuPage County Historical Museum. Postcards like these can show how a place has changed over time and provide numerous views of the same place much like a photograph. (c. 1951, author's collection.)
What began as two postcards has turned into a growing personal collection and a partnership with the DuPage County Historical Museum. Postcards like these can show how a place has changed over time and provide numerous views of the same place, much like  photographs. (c. 1951, author's collection)

In the meantime, we began to read parts of Fay Metcalf and Matthew Downey’s Using Local History in the Classroom. The book, published by AASLH in 1982, analyzes a variety of resources that can be used to write local histories, including family, social, economic, and political history. Metcalf and Downey talk about a variety of sources, but they do not discuss postcards. By utilizing their framework in order to analyze postcards and discuss their importance as a form of historical evidence, I had found my niche and my project.

Every postcard tells a story through its image and its inscription. The inscription on the back of this postcard reads, “We had a swell trip to Chicago and no trouble, we’ve been busy ever since I got here going places. We went out to the airport yesterday morn and saw some of the big planes. I’ll write later.” (c. 1939, author's collection.)
Every postcard tells a story through its image and inscription. The message on the back of this postcard reads: “We had a swell trip to Chicago and no trouble, we've been busy ever since I got here going places. We went out to the airport yesterday morn and saw some of the big planes. I’ll write later.” (c. 1939, author's collection)

Rather than focus simply on postcards from Lombard, I contacted the DuPage County Historical Museum and found that they had a collection of approximately 600 postcards of nearly 24 towns within DuPage County. I set out to analyze these postcards and write a class paper that examined how postcards illustrate the four types of history covered by Metcalf and Downey in the book.

Each postcard conveys a story, whether it is through its materials, imagery, or inscription. Postcards teach us about our family, our community, and where we come from. (c. 1950, DuPage County Historical Museum,
Each postcard conveys a story, and can teach us about our family, our community, and where we come from. (c. 1950, DuPage County Historical Museum,

Over the course of the fall I developed a strong interest in postcards, and even applied for and received a Research/Creative Activity Award from the Graduate College at Eastern Illinois University. This award allowed us to purchase PastPerfect Online to make the catalog of these postcards digitally accessible. Inspired by Metcalf and Downey, I wanted to make these postcards available to the public in a way that they could be used for research and in the classroom.

The museum hopes to have the collection fully accessible to the public by the end of 2015. If you are interested in the research behind this project, check out the online guide "Using Postcards as Historical Evidence." Feel free to contact me if you have any questions or comments about the project.

Brian Failing is an AASLH student member and Master’s candidate in the Historical Administration Program at Eastern Illinois University. Failing is a museum professional and aspiring public historian. He can be contacted at [email protected].

Built for Speed

Archives aren’t exactly designed for speed. But as I read recently about the Smithsonian’s rapid capture process for the digitization of collections, I see another a sign that archives are evolving in the right direction. Of course, few can scale like the Smithsonian, and that makes the up-front investment prohibitive for most. But that doesn’t mean we throw in the towel. Instead, it’s time to prioritize. Unfortunately, prioritization is more often the cause of stagnation than action. Don’t let it happen to you!

In the John Deere Archives we have competing priorities like everyone else. Some weeks everyone wants a photo. Other days it’s film. Often it’s in the form of questions like “give me everything you have on tractors.” Really?


Those questions, however, do have one thing in common—“can you scan it and send it to me immediately!” So as we work to get in front of the questions and to deliver digital surrogates, where do we start? Our process for prioritization is imperfect, but it’s a process nonetheless. We have mobilized to aggressively digitize photos and film. We looked at nearly 10,000 reels of film to determine where to start, and got it down to about 100 that will capture nearly 100 years of equipment history, as well as cultural footage such as architecture, etc. We thought about our hundreds of thousands of photographs, and decided not all are created equally. We identified the bottlenecks. We still have them, and we don’t have a way around them right now. However, we did move the bottleneck to the end of the process so we could provide access. And—and I cannot overstress this—we learned to say NO (as much as we can). It’s the path to being able to say YES.

We can always be more responsive, but continue to make great strides. We can quickly access digital content. We can plan in advance; know who to call for help; and have some answers before the question comes. Perhaps most importantly, our approach demonstrates that we are evolving with the rest of the business, and aligned to the needs of the business and our customers. By prioritizing ourselves, we are indeed building ourselves for speed! What decisions have you made to evolve your operation?

Neil Dahlstrom is the Manager, Corporate History for John Deere & Company.

Nathaniel L. Stebbins Maritime Photograph Collection Digitized at NEDCC

AASLH Member Since 1982

NEDCCThe Nathaniel L. Stebbins collection, one of Historic New England’s most significant photographic collections, is now accessible online. Stebbins, a widely celebrated marine photographer, captured the essential New England pastimes of yachting and racing, as well as an extraordinary variety of marine vessels from the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

The Northeast Document Conservation Center digitized a significant portion of the Stebbins collection for Historic New England, imaging over 5,000 original albumen prints.


Andover, MA
Preserving Cultural Heritage Collections Since 1973