The museum recently completed a project focused on digitizing our collection of maritime log books with the help of funding courtesy of the Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation! The goal of this project was to make a portion of our archival collection accessible online for anyone to research. By the end of the project almost three hundred of the museum’s manuscripts are now able to be easily accessed virtually through our website. By creating digital access to our library collection, the museum is able to provide research material to a greater audience than ever before.
The Nathan R. Lipfert Research Library is home to our archival collection and contains an impressive amount of resource material. In fact, the collection features millions of rare and historically important manuscripts that have been used by researchers since our inception. While researchers are still more than welcome to come in and view the collection in person, they are now able to easily do so online, as well. In addition, there are a number of manuscripts in our collection in poor condition that cannot be taken out by researchers, that are now digitized and accessible for the first time. This will allow new and exciting research projects to use our collection!
This project spanned 400 hours and helped to digitize and catalog just under 300 manuscripts including log books, journals, and diaries. These manuscripts follow Maine vessel journeys all across the globe and detail what life would have been like for sailors. Information gained from these materials includes insight on trade, accounts of personal experiences, and details of life onboard. Although each manuscript is similar in subject, each one contains details that make them unique. To start exploring the collection, access can be found on our website and on PastPerfect. There, not only will you see the digitized archival material, but also information regarding the manuscript. Most notably, information can be found on the author, which can be quite helpful when researching genealogy or related subjects.
Digitization has become a priority for many museums, including ours, and we are grateful to have had the ability to complete this project. The past year and a half has highlighted the need for greater access to collections when in person visits are no longer an option. So, with the help of the Delmas foundation grant and the Institute of Museum and Library Services grant we are happy to report that the museum is well on its way to creating comprehensive digital collections for not just the archives, but also with our artifact collection. We hope that with these two projects we can increase accessibility and continue to provide researchers with valuable material for their projects.
– Julia Ryder, library assistant