With warm regards to the supportive open door policy tendered by the ES Carnegie Library, the Bank of Eureka Springs John Cross Collection, and the ES Historical Museum.
Eureka Springs History
Digitized History — Why?
A Living Time Capsule
The electronic opportunities are here and now – we are eons from the Dark Ages when monks and scribes would copy manuscripts by candle light — each scroll, one after another — over and over again through centuries. Today, there are a number of universities and municipal library systems engaged in scanning their archives and digitally storing them for future mankind. However, all of these projects depend substantially on Federal grants and matching funds. A successful example is Springfield, Missouri (Green County Library) where they have digitized their collections of postcards and local heritage books now made available to public access.
During the past decade or so, magazine, book, and newspaper industries have maintained their files for future reference or for reprint. This cost is nominal since these writings are already created by modern word processors.
However good these attempts, mountains of past records are in continued process of destruction. Consider the fate of the Bettmann archive, which began as two suitcases of holocaust images smuggled out of Nazi Germany by Otto Bettmann. Appealing to others, his collection grew to 11 million historic photographs. This collection is now in the possession of Corbis, a Bill Gates Microsoft company. Upon acquisition of the archive, the plan was to digitize all its images, but the amount of time it takes to digitize those pictures has proved longer than many of the pictures would last, unless properly stored. As a result, the Bettmann archive, in addition to other large collections acquired by Corbis, is now stored 220 feet below ground in a limestone mine not far from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
Corbis pointed out that it was well along in its plan to digitally scan many of the pictures, creating an electronic archive that would be available online to anyone with a computer anywhere in the world. Needless to say, that corporation’s primary responsibility is to its “Bottom Line!”
There is very little being performed on local community levels towards digitizing historical documents. In recent years, the Mormons made copious xerox copies of stored records at libraries and courthouse vaults.
I urge other writers of history -- as well as all “regional history buffs” -- to aid and abet the digitizing of files available to them — to be sent to sanctioned depositories which have yet to be established. In the meantime, efforts should be made to scan family histories and photographs, maps, correspondence, etc.
Great losses occurred from Hurricane Katrina to historical landmarks and libraries and private heritage collections of data and photographs along the Gulf Coast. I feel that I did my part by having made much of my data collection and researched material and other information available in dedicated sites such as listed in my Links Page. Anyone interested in developing their own site is more than welcome to contact me for assistance. I will be more than happy to assist others in establishing a historical internet domain.
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