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Eric Bartheld
IU Libraries

Last modified: Thursday, September 7, 2006

IU Digital Library Program leads projects to expand access to Indiana history

Sept. 7, 2006

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- The Indiana University Digital Library Program will advance two projects to make the state's history broadly available to Hoosiers, thanks to grants recently announced by the Indiana State Library. The projects — one to digitize a 100-year run of a popular history journal, and the other to digitize historic correspondence from the utopian community of New Harmony — leverage IU's strengths to benefit the state.

"The benefits are twofold," says Patricia Steele, Ruth Lilly Interim Dean of University Libraries. "Citizens across the state will have the opportunity to gain a better understanding of their own history, and we at the IU Libraries advance our goal of providing free and open access to the information researchers need."

Both projects are expected to be online in summer 2007.

The IU Digital Library Program will digitize the full run of the Indiana Magazine of History, a highly popular and long-running journal based at IU Bloomington. Published continuously since 1905, the Indiana Magazine of History is one of the nation's oldest historical journals.

"This digitization project is a tremendous boon to students, scholars and the general public — in Indiana and beyond," says Eric Sandweiss, Carmony Chair of History at Indiana University Bloomington and the magazine's editor.

More than 40,000 pages will be made available online. As images, the pages will retain the layout and graphic elements associated with a print publication, and as searchable text the content will be more easily discoverable. Readers will be able to find articles relevant to their town or county, to their interest in genealogy and family history, or to a special subject area, such as the Civil War.

"It amazes to me to think of the information that will be accessible to researchers anywhere in the world, simply with the click of a button," Sandweiss says. "While we've had opportunities to try this with commercial online aggregators, I'm glad we waited to bring the magazine online with a project that's directed here at IU and sponsored by the people of this state."

The IU Digital Library Project is also partnering with the Working Men's Institute in New Harmony, Ind., to digitize a group of letters dating between 1814 and 1837 pertaining to the early history of New Harmony, arguably the most significant historical site in Indiana.

As the site of two Utopian communities in the early 1800s, New Harmony was first a spiritual sanctuary that later became a haven for international scientists, scholars and educators who sought equality in communal living. The Working Men's Institute is the oldest continuously operating public library in Indiana established in 1838 by William Maclure, noted scientist, educator and philanthropist.

Through a program that distributes federal funding locally, the Indiana State Library awarded funds to digitize unique historical materials of interest to people throughout the state of Indiana. The two grants in which the Digital Library Program will participate total $47,770.

The Indiana University Digital Library Program (DLP) is dedicated to the production, maintenance, delivery and preservation of a wide range of high-quality networked resources for scholars and students at Indiana University and elsewhere.

The DLP is a collaborative effort of the Indiana University Libraries and Office of the Vice President for Information Technology, through the Research and Academic Computing Division of University Information Technology Services, and the university research faculty with leadership from the School of Library and Information Science and School of Informatics.