National Archives Digitization Project

In a comment to one of my previous posts about the massive digitization of books on the internet, I mused about the possible availability of just about anything historical on the ‘net one day.  The following was recently sent to me by a friend, regarding the ongoing digitization project of the National Archives holdings:

WASHINGTON and LINDON, Utah, Jan. 10 /PRNewswire/ — Archivist of the United States Allen Weinstein and Footnote, Inc. CEO Russell Wilding today announced an agreement to digitize selected records from the vast holdings of the National Archives. The 4.5 million pages that have been digitized so far are now available at the National Archives website (http:www.nara.gov).

This non-exclusive agreement, beginning with the sizeable collection of materials currently on microfilm, will enable researchers and the general public to access millions of newly-digitized images of the National Archives historic records on a subscription basis from the Footnote website. By February 6, the digitized materials will also be available at no charge in National Archives research rooms in Washington D.C. and regional facilities across the country. After an interval of five years, all images digitized through this agreement will be available at no charge through the National Archives website.

“This is an exciting step forward for the National Archives,” said Professor Weinstein. “It will immediately allow much greater access to approximately 4.5 million pages of important documents that are currently available only in their original format or on microfilm. The digitization of documents will also enhance our efforts to preserve our original records.”

“The partnership with the National Archives will expand significantly the content we are able to offer professional and amateur researchers,” said Footnote CEO Russell Wilding. “We will continue to add millions of original documents and images monthly.”

The following represents a portion of the millions of historic documents that will be made available as part of the National Archives – Footnote Agreement.

Papers of the Continental Congress (1774-89). The Papers of the Continental Congress include Journals of the Congress, reports of its committees, papers submitted by state Governments, and correspondence of its Presidents and other officers with diplomatic representatives of the United States abroad, officers in the Continental Army, State and local officials, and private persons. Among the Papers are copies of the Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation, the Northwest Ordinance, the Constitution, and other documents instrumental in molding the new Government. Also included are drafts of treaties and commercial agreements, papers relating to expenditures and loans, reports of military progress during the Revolution, and papers relating to Indian treaties and tribes.

Mathew B. Brady Collection of Civil War Photographs. One of the largest and most frequently researched bodies of Civil War photography anywhere, this series originated with some 6,000 glass plate negatives acquired by the War Department from Brady in 1874-1875. Encompassing images by the enterprising Brady and more than a dozen other photographers, including Alexander Gardner and Timothy O’Sullivan, directly or indirectly associated with him, the series ranges from Brady Gallery portraits of leading military and political personalities of the 1850’s-1860’s to views of units, battlefields, ruins, landscapes, camps, hospitals, prisons, fortifications, bridges, and railroads from Fredericksburg to Chickamauga to Atlanta.

Southern Claims Commission. In the 1870s, some southerners claimed compensation from the U.S. government for items used by the Union Army, ranging from corn and horses, to trees and church buildings. The claim files contain a wealth of genealogical information and they consist of petitions, inventories of properties lost, testimony of family members and others, reports, and certificates submitted by claimants to the Southern Claims Commission as proof of loyalty to the Federal Government and value of property damaged or lost during the Civil War. The materials are arranged by state and thereunder by the name of the claimant.

Name Index to Civil War and Later Pension Files. Pension applications for service in the U.S. Army between 1861 and 1900, grouped according to the units in which the veterans served. The name index to the Civil War and Later Pension Application Files contains over 3 million index entries documenting the applications of soldiers, sailors and their widows. The index is the entry point for one of the most significant bodies of Federal records documenting the lives of volunteers who served in the Civil War, the western Indian Wars, and the Spanish American War.

Investigative Case Files of the Bureau of Investigation, 1908-22. The Bureau of Investigation investigated real and perceived threats to the nation and its citizens before it became the FBI. The materials compiled by the BOI from 1908 to 1922 consist of an index to the investigative case files, general investigative records, investigative records relating to German Aliens from 1915 through 1920, investigative records relating to Mexican Neutrality Violations from 1909 through 1921, and investigative records transferred from the Department of Justice from 1920 through 1921. The records are arranged alphabetically by the name of the person or organization investigated.

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Published in: on January 17, 2007 at 10:38 am  Comments (2)  

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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Hi JD,

    Did you notice also that one must _pay_ Footnote to see these national records online? You also have to be 18 years old. Gonna make it hard for school kids.

    I saw this a few days ago and rushed right over there and signed up. There was no mention that it was fee-based until I actually tried to look at a photograph.

    We’ll have to wait til 2012 to see this stuff online for free.

    I am not impressed by the sneaky way this is being marketed. None of the press releases or other online announcements mention the pay-per-view/subscription aspects.

  2. Ah, interesting. And sneaky. Well, someone has to pay for it, I guess. Price of having it so available.

    J.D.


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