Creating 21st Century Digital Collections

Join Kristen Gwinn-Becker, as she discusses strategizing, creating or updating, engaging, and sustaining modern digital collections. She will walk through the six areas outlined below, showing examples for each section. Participants may send an email in advance that contains a link to their digital collections and the top three questions they would like answered about their current situation or a future initiative. Kristen will work with examples from participants as well as draw on real (digital) world examples of digital initiatives from her international technology company HistoryIT. The different challenges these institutions faced and the innovative solutions that were employed to maximize user impact and sustainability will be shared with attendees. This webinar will focus on what users of digital collections demand now, and on sustainable best practices for converting or creating online platforms that not only grow with their users’ interests and expectations but also bring out the hidden stories each collection holds.

  1. Then and now – what’s different about digital collections in the 21st century?
  2. Strategy – what do you have and who do you want to reach?
  3. Managing versus Sharing – what’s the difference and where to place your effort?
  4. Digital Framework – is your digital environment optimized to connect your content with the audiences you seek to engage?
  5. Digital Storytelling – how can you tell engaging stories with your collection or collections once they are digital?
  6. Ongoing considerations – how can you best position your digital collections for sustainability? Most importantly, where is the funding?


Date: May 16, 2017

Time: 3pm EST/2pm Central/1pm Mountain/12pm Pacific/10am Hawaii

Cost: $40 members/$65 nonmembers


About the Instructor:

Kristen Gwinn-Becker, PhD is a successful, dynamic and engaging entrepreneur with a unique background. She was the youngest graduate of the University of Maine, received a Master’s Degree from Trinity College Dublin, studied Museum Studies at Harvard University, and obtained a Doctorate in U.S. History from George Washington University. She is also a skilled computer programmer and database expert. In 2012, Kristen combined her expertise in history and technology to found HistoryIT with a mission to address the need for historical collections to be made accessible to a much broader audience than professional researchers. With the goal of building truly searchable digital heritage collections, HistoryIT combines its software and services solutions to deliver robust digital presentations that are transforming the way the public will access our collective history. As CEO Kristen has grown HistoryIT to an international industry-leading organization that works with cultural institutions, universities, corporations, professional associations, sports teams, and others throughout the world.


AASLH/MMA Annual Meeting: HistoryIT Scholarship for Digital Thinking

HistoryIT, in order to support innovative digital thinking in history organizations, will provide one scholarship to support an organization wishing to send a representative to the AASLH/MMA Annual Meeting in 2016. The scholarship will be given to the organization that best articulates why they wish to attend the Annual Meeting and what they most look forward to learning there, specifically concerning digital innovation and digital collections. Organizations do not need to already have implemented digital strategies. Those planning to grow their digital presence are encouraged to apply as well.

Applications must include:

  • Complete contact information for the organization and the representative who will be using the scholarship
  • Two to three paragraphs about the organization and the representative they want to send to attend AASLH Annual Meeting
  • A one to two paragraph description of what the organization most wants their representative to learn from or experience at the annual meeting, especially how what they learn will impact the organization’s digital strategy.

Applications will be evaluated by AASLH staff according to the criteria listed above. Applications should be sent to Hannah Hethmon at [email protected] by July 1, 2016. The scholarship will cover the cost of registration as well as provide some travel funds.


Apply for the Scholarship


HistoryIT_TMThis scholarship was funded by HistoryIT. HistoryIT is a technology and services company that provides clients with a brand new approach to making historical collections more useful, meaningful and accessible. A national company with headquarters in Portland, Maine, HistoryIT is owned and managed by professional historians, archivists, technologists and digital innovators. HistoryIT brings industry-leading expertise to preserve historical collections of all types and sizes and to make them searchable in meaningful ways. Working with cultural institutions, universities, corporations, professional associations, sports teams, and others, HistoryIT leverages cutting- edge technologies, proprietary methodologies, and the subject matter expertise and commitment of its team to create appealing, effective digital portals for historical resources.

Historical Society of Washington, DC and HistoryIT Release New Digital Archive Portal for DC History

Earlier this month, the Historical Society of Washington, D.C. and history technology and consulting firm HistoryIT (AASLH members since 1995 and 2013, respectively) announced the release of a new web portal –Discover DC History – that tells rich stories from the history of the nation’s capital and allows the public to search and view items in the archive. The new digital archive is just one of the results of a grant from the City Fund awarded to the Historical Society of Washington by the Community Foundation for the National Capital Region. The grant funded the creation of a plan to digitize many of the organization's historic collections and begin the digitization process.

The new Discover DC History site contains nearly 1,000 items, including contracts, correspondence, deeds, photographs, postcards, rsz_discoverdc2ephemera, and three-dimensional museum artifacts, some of which have never been seen before by the public. This is a small sample of the Historical Society’s vast collections focused on Washington’s local history from the 17th century to the present. HistoryIT has also completed a preliminary assessment to evaluate the Historical Society’s existing catalog, which includes approximately 100,000 records, as well as all of the materials housed at its headquarters in the Carnegie Library at Mt. Vernon Square, and has produced a strategic digitization plan, informing the Historical Society how best to digitize and make accessible its vast holdings over the next few years.

The new site features a curated exhibition entitled “Washingtonians at Play.” Visitors can also simply explore items from collections that have been hidden away for years in the “Discover Unseen Images” section. HistoryIT’s digital collections technology ArchivesTree allows viewers to search items across collections and by item type. The Historical Society’s digital initiative is an ongoing project. More of the collections will be added to the site on a continuous basis, and as more stories are uncovered, the Historical Society will release new curated exhibitions. The new digital archive provides exciting, unprecedented access to the history of the people and places of the nation’s capital, which will only grow over time.

rsz_discoverdc“We are particularly happy to announce this new digital platform – we have been building our digital presence and this website is the best way to demonstrate the breadth of our collection. Making collections readily available online is a priority, and I am pleased that we have created an important new way for the public to research, collaborate, and innovate,” said John Suau, the Historical Society’s Executive Director. “Thanks to the City Fund support, we have dramatically increased visibility and accessibility to our collections. We now provide a digital library for everyone in the world to learn about the history of Washington, D.C.”

Dr. Kristen Gwinn-Becker, CEO of HistoryIT, described the new site as “a rich resource for people of all ages interested in Washington’s past.” She continued, “At HistoryIT, we are dedicated to creating digital spaces that bring history to the general public as well as the researcher. We are excited to continue to work with the Historical Society to build and turn this web portal into an ongoing asset that will provide the public and media with interactive digital history experiences.”

Press release shared via HistoryIT.