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Historians have always walked a tightrope between preserving historical documents and providing access for the public to explore or study.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 Digitization of historical documents expands access while improving the preservation abilities of a historical society’s collection.
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.
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Why digitize? This is the question many archive owners, collectors, and curators face. In an increasingly digital world, analog access to collections and archives is