Digital Archives Update October 2020

Implicit in a career involving museum collections is that discovery and wonder become part of your day-to-day experience; a tremendous privilege to be sure! One of the most delightful surprises of the digitization project has been seeing how our transcription volunteers are connecting with our historic collections in this very same way – a connection possible only through a kind of deep-dive into the material seldom afforded to the casual museum visitor.

As COVID-19 forces us out of our shared physical spaces, the transcription project offers a digital space in which people can make such a rewarding contribution. Recognizing this opportunity, the Olney 1st Ward of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints chose our project as their “Day to Serve” beneficiary. Undeterred by pandemic restrictions, this enterprising group’s commitment to finding a socially-distanced community service project led them to us and resulted in over 550 pages of transcription!! Wow, THANK YOU!

Participant feedback indicates an enjoyable and gratifying experience was had by all; we certainly hope they will each consider continuing to be a part of our project’s community and that other groups will consider us when seeking service opportunities during these unusual times.

Staff Picks from the Digital Archives





The Archives Digitization Project has been made possible in part by a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities: Exploring the human endeavor.

Digital Archives Update September 2020

The collection of 19th century Sandy Spring neighborhood store ledgers are near-complete digitization. Just shy of five-thousand pages, these sixteen volumes include records of the community’s first general store founded in Sandy Spring in 1819 by James P. Stabler and Caleb Bentley as well as ledgers from the Ashton (1870-1907) and Brookeville (1846-1854) general stores.

At first blush, these documents may seem like incomprehensible lists of gibberish and gobbledygook BUT if you spend a bit of time on any single page you’ll soon realize what treasure troves they really are.

Indeed, the study of early store ledgers can unlock enigmatic details of 19th-century life by providing quantitative insight on topics like consumer consumption, labor compensation, informal bartering economies, inequities in resource access, and early adoption of technologies. It’s enough to give even the most reluctant historian goosebumps!

Formerly of narrow interest to mostly economists, recently these old store ledgers are being recognized by anthropologists, historians, and other social scientists as valuable primary sources. Recent developments in transcribing this kind of structured text are also leading to exciting ways of visualizing the data held within.

We are delighted to contribute significantly to this growing bevy of material and look forward to forging partnerships in their use.

Staff Picks from the Digital Archives





The Archives Digitization Project has been made possible in part by a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities: Exploring the human endeavor.

Digital Archives Update August 2020

August has proven a quiet month for the Digitization Project. Now that comparatively shorter items are being processed, the team has been heads-down working through a large volume of documents with the majority of our time devoted to applying descriptive metadata. Descriptive metadata is the information you see below the document’s image on Digital Maryland that ultimately makes the documents findable. To ensure the integrity of the collection’s cohesion, consistency and adherence to standards are always paramount in this process.

While descriptive metadata allows the item findable, as we pointed out in the past, transcription is the key to making the item’s actual content searchable. We have been thrilled to see our transcription warriors getting terrific support, and are pleased to now include in our newsletter a volunteer spotlight we are sure you will enjoy.

Staff Picks from the Digital Archives






The Archives Digitization Project has been made possible in part by a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities: Exploring the human endeavor.

Digital Archives Update July 2020

The dog days of summer may drain us of energy but certainly not of enthusiasm or momentum.

The digitization team received an especially delightful boost this month by welcoming, Riley Bogren. Riley joins the team as the project’s Transcription Coordinator, a new role created in response to the growing interest and volunteer activity on our transcription site.

Time and again, Sandy Spring Museum initiatives serve as a catalyst in creating communities of shared visions and values; the digitization project is no exception. At its most elemental, transcription facilitates enhanced readability and searchability of document content within the digital archives. Yet, as the effort organically matures, we are seeing seeds of community emerge around query and inquisitiveness borne from the act of transcribing.

Riley is excited to serve as the hub around which this growing group can evolve by serving as a single point of contact and creating welcoming spaces in which transcribers share ideas and help each other.

A recent graduate from Towson University in film studies and videography, Riley hit the ground running with heaps of ideas and enthusiasm! A warm Sandy Spring Museum welcome to Riley.

Staff Picks from the Digital Archives





The Archives Digitization Project has been made possible in part by a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities: Exploring the human endeavor.

Digital Archives Update June 2020

The digitization of our collection of 19th century Sandy Spring neighborhood store ledgers is near complete. Just shy of five-thousand pages, these sixteen volumes include records of the community’s first general store founded in Sandy Spring in 1819 by James P. Stabler and Caleb Bentley as well as ledgers from the Ashton (1870-1907) and Brookeville (1846-1854) general stores.

At first blush, these documents may seem like incomprehensible lists of gibberish and gobbledygook BUT if you spend a bit of time on any single page you’ll soon realize what treasure troves they really are.

Indeed, the study of early store ledgers can unlock enigmatic details of 19th-century life by providing quantitative insight on topics like consumer consumption, labor compensation, informal bartering economies, inequities in resource access, and early adoption of technologies. It’s enough to give even the most reluctant historian goosebumps!

Formerly of narrow interest to mostly economists, recently these old store ledgers are being recognized by anthropologists, historians, and other social scientists as valuable primary sources. Recent developments in transcribing this kind of structured text are also leading to exciting ways of visualizing the data held within.

We are delighted to contribute significantly to this growing bevy of material and look forward to forging partnerships in their use.

Staff Picks from the Digital Archives





 

The Archives Digitization Project has been made possible in part by a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities: Exploring the human endeavor.