John Turner, a religion professor at George Mason University, introduces us to a very interesting new digital archive called Pandemic Religion. Over at The Anxious Bench, Turner introduces us to this new database:
Two months ago, Lincoln Mullen (my colleague at George Mason University) and I created pandemicreligion.org, a digital archive dedicated to collecting materials about American congregations during the COVID-19 pandemic…
Pandemic Religion continues to solicit contributions from congregations and individuals. Contributors can write narratives, but they can also contribute any media files: photographs, .mp4 digital sermons, and anything else. Please consider sharing this call for contributions with members of your community.
Read the entire post here.
Here is Jeff Cooper at the blog of the American Antiquarian Society:
For the past fifteen years, New England’s Hidden Histories (NEHH), a project of the Congregational Library & Archives in Boston, has sought to locate, digitize, transcribe, and publish online New England’s earliest manuscript church records. The project, which was featured on the front page of the New York Times, has already made available documents from nearly one hundred local churches.
With support from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), the American Antiquarian Society has partnered with Hidden Histories to digitize some of the most exciting and illuminating documents in the AAS’s vast manuscript collections. The current pandemic, which has forced virtually all research institutions in New England to close, underscores the importance of digital initiatives, and the online accessibility provided by these kinds of projects. Already the two institutions have collaboratively digitized and published online an early manuscript draft of Congregationalism’s foundational document, the 1649 Cambridge Platform, along with the church elders’ responses to lay objections to the document. Early New Englanders referred to the Platform as their “constitution” of church government…
Other significant documents slated for digitization include the papers of the Reverend Thomas Shepard, one of the key members of the founding generation, and the one thousand-page diary of Increase Mather. Collections of local church records scheduled for online publication include those of Worcester, Holden, Shrewsbury, and several others. Hidden Histories has transcribed many of the documents in its collections and is always looking for volunteers to assist.
The thousands of pages of historically significant documents to be published online by the AAS and New England’s Hidden Histories will provide scholars and the general public with an unprecedented opportunity to study seventeenth and eighteenth-century church and community life in the region.
Read the entire post here.
Here is Jim Ambuske of Mount Vernon at the blog of the Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture:
The historian’s craft is a collaborative enterprise. For all of the long days and quiet nights we spend laboring in the archives or in front of computer screens, many of our best insights, discoveries, and claims rest on contributions from our colleagues.
This is especially true in the digital realm. Collaboration has long been a hallmark of the digital humanities and digital history, which leverages the expertise of humanists and technologists to produce new knowledge about the past or create the means to do so.
That is why the Washington Library at Mount Vernon is very excited to collaborate with the Omohundro Institute to offer the OI-Mount Vernon Fellowships for Digital Collections in the American Founding Era. The OI-Mount Vernon Fellowship builds on the OI’s leadership in digital history and its efforts to create digital collections that enrich our understanding of Vast Early America. By offering grants to foster new research into the American Revolution and Early Republic, our goal is to inspire partnerships between scholars and archival repositories that lead to the digitization of primary sources from the Founding Era.
Read the rest here.
William L. Clements Library at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
African American History Collection, 1729-1966 (bulk 1781-1865) at: https://quod.lib.umich.edu/a/africanamer/
Lydia Maria Child Papers, 1831-1894 at: https://quod.lib.umich.edu/c/child/
Fort Wayne Indian Agency Collection, 1801-1815 at: https://quod.lib.umich.edu/f/fortwayne/
“History for All the People,” a blog of the State Archives of North Carolina, recently announced that the state’s General Assembly session records are now online. Here is a taste of the post:
After three years, The General Assembly Session Records digital collection is now online!
This digital collection covers the session records from 1709 to 1814, located in the State Archives of North Carolina. The physical collection includes records that extend to 1999, but we wanted to highlight the history of colonial North Carolina and the days of early statehood. The documents include Senate and House bills, joint resolutions, propositions, filed grievances, boundary disputes, and petitions that typically discussed divorces, inheritances, name changes and emancipation.
Over at The Conversation, Vanderbilt historian Jane Landers writes about her work on the Slave Societies Digital Archive. Here is a taste:
This archive, which I launched in 2003, now holds approximately 600,000 images dating from the 16th to the 19th centuries. Since its creation, the archive has led to new insights into African populations in the Americas.
The Slave Societies Digital Archive documents the lives of approximately 6 million free and enslaved Africans, their descendants, and the indigenous, European and Asian people with whom they interacted.
When searching for and preserving archives, our researchers must race against time. These fast-vanishing records are threatened daily by tropical humidity, hurricanes, political instability and neglect.
The work is usually challenging and sometimes risky. Our equipment has been stolen in several locations. Soon after we left the remote community of Quibdó, Colombia, a gun battle erupted in the surrounding jungles between the government military forces and Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia, better known as FARC. It’s no wonder that one of our team members called what we do “guerrilla preservation.”
This hard work has allowed us to discover more about the lives of slaves in the Americas. For example, the Catholic Church mandated the baptism of enslaved Africans in the 15th century. The baptismal records now preserved in the Slave Societies Digital Archive are the oldest and most uniform serial data available for African-American history.
Read the rest here.
Digital Harrisburg is a digital public humanities project created by students and faculty of Messiah College and Harrisburg University of Science and Technology that explores the history and culture of the Harrisburg, Pennsylvania area. Read more about it here.
Over at Harrisburg Magazine, write Rick Dapp has used Digital Harrisburg to learn more about four blocks on Verbeke Street. Here is a taste of his article:
Memory is an elusive thing, often distorted by time and the inclusion of unintentionally specious fictions in the retelling of stories handed down from one generation to another. Occasionally a sliver of truth finds its way into our awareness and triggers a desire to expand our knowledge of it. When there is tangible evidence it’s a relatively uncomplicated process. When there is nothing to perceive imagination – and some research – is required.
If there is one pair of structures that provide an anchor for the Midtown section of the city, it’s the Broad Street Market. Despite the fact that there is no Broad Street in the city, it goes by that name nonetheless. In the nineteenth century there was an effort to make the name stick, but Verbeke Street prevailed. Named for William K. Verbeke, the street has two distinct characteristics. There is the section running from North 6th Street to 3rd Street, and, like a number of similar city thoroughfares, it terminates and then resumes on Cameron Street….
And he concludes:
How does one glean this knowledge that allows the imagination to recreate the past? It’s quite simple, you simply type in (on your computer – were back in real time again) https//digitalharrisburg.com/2014/12/16/explore-harrisburg-in-1900
The interactive map that has been developed as a collaboration between Messiah College, Harrisburg University of Science and Technology and the Historical Society of Dauphin County. The participants in this invaluable effort scanned the entire 1901 Harrisburg Title Company Atlas. Data includes information from the federal census that allows the viewer to determine the location of a specific property and numerous personal indices relative to families or individuals living within a specific property in 1901.
Log on and take a look at 314 Verbeke. You’ll never look at those vacant spaces on Verbeke west of the Millworks in quite the same way again.
Read the entire piece here.
This is a very cool digital project focused on recovering and preserving “rare Indigenous newspapers, photographs, and archival material from all across Native North America.
Learn more about it here.
HT: Gretchen Adams via Facebook
Donald Trump’s current budget proposal will eliminate government funding for the humanities. This means that local communities and American citizens will need to come up with other ways to fund programs like this:
The Japanese American History Digitization Project at California State University will help us better understand the story of Japanese Americans in the 20th century by digitizing the archives of several collections and placing them on line for researchers.
Here is a description:
The story of the Japanese Americans in the 20th century – their migration to this country, the Alien Land laws under which they lived, their incarceration during World War II, the redress movement – is a complex local and state topic as well as a national subject of great historical impact. The accumulation of archival materials telling these “local” stories has enormous potential for scholarly interpretation and forms a humanities topic of national importance. The California State University System (consisting of 23 campuses, once called “the 1000 mile campus”) and the local CSU archival collections scattered throughout California are too disparate to offer scholars a complete story or easy access. It is not serendipity that so many CSU archives have a great deal of material focused on this issue. Immigration patterns that determined where Japanese Americans (Nikkei) settled also relate to where CSU collections are located. Sacramento, San Jose and Fresno had early Japanese American agricultural populations. The Nikkei populations of Little Tokyo, Gardena and Palos Verdes in Los Angeles County are directly connected to the extent of materials that CSU Dominguez Hills and CSU Fullerton have collected. Grants to digitize and describe these archival collections are beginning to bring these local stories of national significance together for worldwide access.
Learn more here.
Mark Boonshoft, a post-doctoral research fellow at the New York Public Library, informs us that records of the Boston Committee of Correspondence (1772-1774) are now freely available online. Here is a taste of his post at the blog of the NYPL:
Looking back on the Revolution in 1815, John Adams remarked that “The History of the United States never can be written” without the records of the Boston Committee of Correspondence. When it was formed in 1772, the BCC was the closest thing to an organizing body of the nascent American revolutionary movement. From that year through 1774, when the First Continental Congress met in Philadelphia, the BCC corresponded with similar committees in hundreds of Massachusetts towns, as well as from every one of the thirteen colonies. It was the central node in a growing revolutionary network. According to Adams at least, the BCC was not merely significant for American history but also for world history. He argued that the BCC provided a model for future European revolutions…
As part of an ongoing project to digitize large portions of the New York Public Library’s early American manuscript collections, NYPL has made the records of the Boston Committee of Correspondence freely available online. Over the next couple of months, I’ll periodically blog about the collection, especially with an eye toward making it accessible for students. And we certainly hope this will reinvigorate researchers’ interest in the collection. But keeping with the Library’s mission to make knowledge available to all, we hope everyone who is interested in the history of the American Revolution will also dive into this rich material.
Today I learned about the Lee Family Archive:
The Lee Family Digital Archive (LFDA), now housed at Stratford Hall, is an online repository of the collected papers of the Lee Family of Virginia. When complete, the LFDA will consist of a comprehensive annotated edition of all the known papers of the immigrant founder Richard Lee (c.1602-1663/4) and his lines of offspring (7-8 generations). This rich documentary legacy, spanning roughly the first three centuries of American history (from c.1640 to c.1920), is offered to the public free of charge for research and teaching purposes. Initial support for the LFDA at Washington & Lee University was provided by the Lee-Jackson Educational Foundation, the Society of the Lees of Virginia, and the Harlan R. Crow Library. In October 2014, the LFDA was transferred from Washington & Lee University to Stratford Hall, where it will be maintained and expanded, through the generosity of The Ratcliffe Foundation.
In order to carry out its mission and to enhance the experience of its users, the LFDA depends on the inclusion of the following basic building blocks:
- Genealogy of the Lee Family
- Chronology or timeline of Lee Family members
- Calendar of Lee Family papers
- Digital facsimile images of all Lee Family documents
- Digital transcriptions of all Lee Family documents
- Biographical database
- Exhaustive bibliography
- Annotation of documents
- Digitization of related secondary sources (e.g. Douglas Southall Freeman’s R. E. Lee)
- Online exhibits and interpretive essays
Learn more here. This looks like a great resource.
I stumbled upon this website after Giselle Roberts tweeted it with the #twitterstorians hashtag. The University of Virginia library has put together an excellent page of primary sources about women, gender, and sexuality, including many digital and microfilmed diaries.
Check it out here.
I just learned that the American Association for State and Local History (AASLH), along with Historypin, Google, the New York Library Council, and the Society of American Archivists are working on an online project to document Hurricane Sandy. Learn more about it here or watch this video:
Here is a taste of the AASLH’s call for participants:
Seven months after Hurricane Sandy swept over the Caribbean and up the Eastern seaboard of the United States, communities are still rebuilding in its wake. The deadliest and most destructive hurricane of the 2012 Atlantic hurricane season, Sandy left at least 285 people dead across seven countries, with additional material damages of over $75 billion.
It is very important for our nation’s history organizations to participate in projects like this. When a national disaster strikes our country, the power of history plays a crucial role in the cultural preservation and long term recovery of devastated communities. As keepers of our nation’s history, we hold the records and memories of state and local history.
AASLH strongly encourages history organizations and those with connections to the areas affected by Hurricane Sandy to contribute to this important project so that history is not lost forever.
Local historical societies give us a unique perspective on the patterns of natural disasters. The Newport Historical Society, for example, has shared photos of Sandy and other hurricanes reaching back to 1938, documenting the way people have come together to help one another again and again.
This is very cool. If I understand this correctly, the Internet Archive is trying to make a copy of the entire Internet. (HT: Northwest History). They even have a “Way Back Machine” which allows you to find websites that have been deleted. For example, here is The Way of Improvement Leads Home from December 3, 2008. And here is the Messiah College website from December 10, 1997.
Here is a description of The Internet Archive:
The Internet Archive is a 501(c)(3) non-profit that was founded to build an Internet library. Its purposes include offering permanent access for researchers, historians, scholars, people with disabilities, and the general public to historical collections that exist in digital format. Founded in 1996 and located in San Francisco, the Archive has been receiving data donations from Alexa Internet and others. In late 1999, the organization started to grow to include more well-rounded collections. Now the Internet Archive includes texts, audio, moving images, and software as well as archived web pages in our collections, and provides specialized services for adaptive reading and information access for the blind and other persons with disabilities.
The New York City Department of Records has created a photo database of 870,000 photographs dating back to the mid-19th century. These pictures are incredible. Read all about it here. (HT: Marla Miller).
This article at The Atlantic calls our attention to the 38,000 historical maps from the collection of David Rumsey that can be found at the Digital Public Library of America. Here is a taste:
More than three decades ago, David Rumsey began building a map collection. By the mid-90s he had thousands and thousands of maps to call his own — and his alone. He wanted to share them with the public.
He could have donated them to the Library of Congress, but Rumsey had even bigger ideas: the Internet. “With (some) institutions, the access you can get is not nearly as much as the Internet might provide,” Rumsey told Wired more than a decade ago. “I realized I could reach a much larger audience with the Internet.”
Bit by bit, Rumsey digitized his collection — up to 38,000 maps and other items — along the way developing software that made it easier for people to explore the maps and 3D objects such as globes online. Today, the Digital Public Library of America announced that Rumsey’s collection would now be available through the DPLA portal, placing the maps into the deeper and broader context of the DPLA’s other holdings.
“I am very excited to have my digital library of historical maps added to the DPLA,” Rumsey was quoted as saying in a DPLA press release. “Maps tell stories that complement texts, images, and other resources found in the growing DPLA library.”
I continue to learn about more digital archives/digital history projects. The latest is The Newark Archives Project.
Here is what it’s all about:
The Newark (N.J.) Archives Project is your comprehensive online source of information about primary materials for all periods and all aspects of Newark history, from Colonial times to the 21st Century. Co-sponsored by the Newark History Society and Rutgers University-Newark, the Project cooperates closely with the staffs of the many libraries and archives it surveys. We are creating detailed descriptions of Newark-related material, both catalogued and un-catalogued, located in repositories in Newark, in New Jersey and New York, and ultimately throughout the United States. We survey papers of individuals and families; records of government agencies, organizations, and businesses; photographs and film; audio collections; and more.
Our database of collection descriptions is constantly growing. You can search our detailed descriptions of hundreds of archival collections by keyword, by name, by subject, and by time-period. click here
To see a list of libraries and archives surveyed to date click here.