Thanks to our dedicated volunteers, we have made excellent progress on projects this year.

We have put a major effort into sorting, culling, and re-shelving our collection. Over the years related materials have become scattered among different parts of the Archives, so we are now reorganizing. By the time we're done every box and folder will have been opened, inspected, and moved to a new physical location in our stacks. For our long-time volunteers, this upheaval may be a little disconcerting, but new signage helps ease the transition. The ultimate goal, of course, is to create a logical structure that supports all the different kinds of research conducted at the Archives. Nancy Dutton, Connie Reece, and Debbie Hall have been working on this monumental task.

On the digitization front, we are pleased to have reclaimed access to the Rev. Job Seamans Diary and Papers, which had been carefully placed on microfilm years ago in order to protect the fragile originals. This was done at a time when microfilm readers were readily available. Today you would need to travel to Newport or Concord to find one. With the help of volunteer Rick Anderson, we were able to get our rolls of microfilm converted to PDF format for viewing on just about any personal computer (or even iPhone).  This is a great illustration of the risk posed by media obsolescence: archives can easily lose access to portions of their own collections.

We also enlisted the help of volunteer Arthur Hall to convert our 35mm slide collection, adding over 2,000 images to the 5,000 printed photographs that had already been digitized. There's still plenty of work remaining to tag each of the image files for more effective search and retrieval, but we have almost reached the point where all still images held at the Archives have a digital copy stored in our database. You're welcome to stop by for a visual tour of New London's history any Wednesday morning.

Finally, you may be interested to learn about our Main Street Wiki project. This effort to document the history of homes and businesses along New London's Main Street is really a pilot project that could expand into a broader, community-wide effort. A wiki is simply an on-line database to which any number of people can contribute information. Applying this technology to local history is unusual, but we're excited about its potential to attract new volunteers (who can work whenever and wherever it's convenient) and to collect contributions of new information (often taken from digital sources) for the Archives.

To learn more about these and other projects, please visit the Projects page on this web site.

James M. Perkins
Town Archives Committee / June 2010

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