Sunday, October 03, 2010

HJ Project: Working with Old Archives with New Technology

I spent some time again posting some of the old letters and journal entries from N.C. Hudson. One of his letters to Helen was written on a page with this engraving at the top. I've already given this to the Sioux City Public Museum, so I made the scan from a xerox and was working from my previously transcribed text. I'm really enjoying finding time for this project again, doing the research and making the stuff available at long last. (I didn't see this engraving anywhere else online, although it could be hidden somewhere.) I hope to have the time to continue.

Technology and the Internet are still astonishing to me, when I remember what it took only a few years ago to publish anything like this. The xerox I scanned the engraving from is so much inferior to the scan of the original I could have made now, but at least I was able copy and paste the digital text from a Word doc, and not have to resort to scanning from an old typewriter (the work I did in the 1980s) or primary or secondary handwritten transcripts. That will come soon enough as I get further into the material. In such a relatively few years, the ability to present historical documents has gone miles. I find myself wishing I could have the originals back again to make good scans, and one of these days I may be able to visit their repositories and do that if I still have the interest. But I'm not just moaning. I'm glorying in what can be done. I remember writing "the dream target book," for those few who know what that is, back in the 1980s, and wishing like crazy at the time that there was something like hyperlinks. Well, now they exist, and someday I may put that project online. With the links I only imagined.

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