Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Ball State University Libraries Create Middletown Women’s History Digital Collection

by Maren L. Read, Archivist for Manuscript Collections and Amanda A. Hurford, Digital Initiatives Multimedia Developer

Ball State University Libraries announce the completion of a 2008-2009 Library Services Technology Act (LSTA) digitization grant to create a digital collection of local women’s history materials from its Archives and Special Collections. Digitized photographs, letters, club minutes, and other documents are now available as part of the Middletown Women’s History Digital Collection in the Ball State University Digital Media Repository, a project of the University Libraries.

The selected materials document the experiences of women and women’s organizations in Muncie, Indiana from the 1880s through the 1930s. The organization of this online resource is based on the six areas used by Helen and Robert Lynd in their seminal sociological study of Muncie, or “Middletown,” in the 1920s and 1930s. This digital collection provides a unique resource for information on women’s history. It is expected to expand research opportunities in women’s studies, women’s history, U.S. history, sociology, and other disciplines.

The Middletown Women’s History Digital Collection is a subject-based collection. It contains 318 assets from varied original items such as books, correspondence, photographs, and clippings, all centered on the theme of women’s history. In total, more than 12,000 individual objects were digitized from almost twenty different archival collections.

Both optical character recognition (OCR) and transcription techniques have been utilized in this project to capture full-text transcripts of typed documents and handwritten materials. A total of 75 handwritten items were transcribed by University Libraries’ staff, with more to come. Other documents, like newspaper clippings and printed programs, include OCR-generated searchable text. Capturing full-text provides increased search capabilities and assists students and faculty in deciphering handwritten text. For more information, contact Maren L. Read, Archivist for Manuscript Collections at MLRead@bsu.edu, or Amanda A. Hurford, Multimedia Digital Initiatives Developer at AAHurford@bsu.edu.

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