The Community Foundation for the National Capital Region awarded the Historical Society of Washington, D.C. a grant from the City Fund to help begin digitizing its collections. The grant funds the creation of a plan to digitize many of the organization’s historic collections and begin the digitization process. The Historical Society, founded in 1894, has vast collections that include maps, photographs, prints, manuscripts, artworks, and ephemera focused on Washington’s local history from the 17th century to the present.
“With our collections more readily available online, we create an important new way for the public to research, collaborate, and innovate,” said John Suau, the Historical Society’s Executive Director. “We are extremely grateful for this grant from the City Fund. It will increase the accessibility of our collections to the public and provide a digital library for residents and visitors to learn about the history of Washington, D.C.”
The grant funds a preliminary assessment by the technology firm HistoryIT, which will evaluate the Historical Society’s existing catalog that includes approximately 100,000 records, as well as all of the materials housed at its headquarters in the Carnegie Library at Mt. Vernon Square. The project will then review how the digital collections initiative can help complement other collections throughout the city and produce a strategic digitization plan, informing the Historical Society how best to digitize and make accessible its vast holdings over the next few years.
The Historical Society and HistoryIT will create a sample digital archive of more than 400 items to demonstrate the technology to stakeholders and potential funders. The web search portal will pair the high-quality scans of maps, documents, photographs, and artwork with comprehensive metadata to ensure that they are fully searchable. The sample digital archive will be made available in early 2015. The public can access the existing collections catalog at DCHistory.org.
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