Digitization for Historical Societies

Inaccessible History Is Lost History

Historians have always walked a tightrope between preserving historical documents and providing access for the public to explore or study. The more documents are used and handled, the greater the risk of damage. Exposure to light, air contaminants, or humidity can all shorten the longevity of paper documents. Through digitization, documents can be accessed and used while the paper original is stored in archival safe conditions.

Whether chronicling the history of a town, person, or organization, historical societies recognize the importance of preserving the past for future generations. Historical societies are often formed to value not only the major events and artifacts but also the odds and ends that help build a full picture of an era. Preserving that history is only part of the mission of a historical society—another is sharing that history with their community. Digitization of historical documents expands access while improving the preservation abilities of a historical society’s collection.

Disaster Preparedness

Historical societies often hold the sole copies of documents in their field. If a disaster hit, there would be no record left. Digitization means that no matter what happens to the original, a virtual copy remains to preserve the history historical societies protect.


One of the reasons to preserve history is to expose it to new people and new generations, but for historical societies with only one location or limited resources, exposure can be limited. Digitizing historical collections offers the ability to set up online access. Instead of a narrow audience, collections can be accessed worldwide.

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