Preservation Copy

Shar­ing our Knowl­edge
Part 12: Preser­va­tion Copy

Shar­ing our Knowl­edge is a series of arti­cles about the His­to­rian Archives Project and how you can become involved.

Why the Draper Manuscripts Exist

Why the Draper Man­u­scripts Exist

One of the ini­tial goals of our His­to­rian Archives project, is to pro­tect those four large 4-drawer fil­ing cab­i­nets from nat­ural dis­as­ters such as fire, flood, or tornado.

We do that by run­ning every page through a scan­ner, one page at a time. That gives an image of every page. It’s a pho­to­graph, not search­able text. It’s not search­able or oth­er­wise usable.

Scan­ning those pages will take count­less hours. The result is less than use­ful. A pic­ture of a page, on a com­puter screen, is not easy to use. It is a pic­ture, not book text. That means you can’t search through the files for a par­tic­u­lar name, or any­thing else.

So… Why is this impor­tant? We are cre­at­ing a preser­va­tion copy that we hope we never need to look at again. If the orig­i­nal papers get destroyed by fire, water, or ver­min, we still have the infor­ma­tion in those scanned images. With­out that preser­va­tion copy, every­thing would be gone forever.

Cre­at­ing that preser­va­tion copy is a metic­u­lous but undoubt­edly bor­ing project. Scan one page, then scan the next page, the next page, and the next. Keep those images cor­rectly orga­nized and cat­a­loged. Move on to the next file folder, and the next.

For­tu­nately, this is a per­fect case of “many hands make light work.” If we hap­pen to have sev­eral peo­ple who under­stand the impor­tance of the project, and are will­ing to take on a half dozen file fold­ers at a time, we could per­haps fin­ish that project in a sin­gle year.

Note that this Preser­va­tion Copy project does not include con­vert­ing each page to text. We are mak­ing no attempt to inter­pret, tran­scribe, index, or retype the documents.

We are each extremely tempted to make those pages use­ful. How­ever, that means the project will take lit­er­ally 10 times as many hours. We’ll never finish!

Mean­while, of course, we do have that row of fil­ing cab­i­nets full of use­ful infor­ma­tion. How do we go about shar­ing that knowl­edge? That’s what the next step is all about – cre­at­ing a man­age­able Future Updates program.

Please share your ideas!