Friday, February 27, 2009

Scanning images

Increasingly members of historical societies are scanning their images and linking the image to the catalogue record. Those with museum collections often use a digital camera to take photographs of objects to link to the database record.

Before beginning to digitise it is important to develop a digitisation plan to establish why images are being digitised, how will the the digitised image be used, which images will be digitised.

Detailed information on digitisation and digitisation plans can be found on the blog Information technology and local history. Select the Digitisation link to view relevant articles.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Backing up images

Once again a disaster has illustrated the need for members of historical societies to regularly back up their data, including any images that they have scanned. The recent bushfires in Victoria have resulted in the loss of a number of collections including the collection and building of the Marysville Historical Society. Realistically, as virtually the whole town of Marysville was destroyed, it is unlikely that the collection could have been saved, however fortunately events such as the destruction of Marysville are very rare.

Digital image collections can be backed up on to CD-Roms or DVDs. USB drives are also useful for backing up files. Portable hard drives are another useful medium for backing up files.

It is important to remember that all of these devices, like floppy disks which preceded them, may fail so do not rely on one source for backing up files.

More than one back up should be made.

At least one back up should be stored off site.

In the future it will also be easier to store images online - a number of sites are already providing this service for a fee and no doubt there will be further developments in this area.

Including records in online image databases such as Picture Victoria, as well as making the images available to the public and promoting your collection, also serves as a way of backing up low resolution copies of digital images.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Cataloguing postcards

Towards the end of the nineteenth century and the early twentieth century postcards were a popular method of communication providing a wide range of images of places, people and events. Reduced postage and several deliveries of mail a day made postcards a quick and efficient way to relay business information and to send messages to friends and family. Indeed postcards functioned more like faxes or emails and during their heyday, between 1901 and 1915, people interchanged several messages a day.

Many historical societies have collections of postcards - some showing scenes of their town and surrounding area while others were collected by families in the area and can be a valuable source of social history.

The RHSV has a collection of more than 3,000 postcards. Some of postcards produced prior to 1955 can be found online in the Postcards Online database.

In 2002 the Royal Historical Society of Victoria held an exhibition - Travellers' Tales: Photography & the Proliferation of the Postcard an exhibition showcasing the range of postcards held in the RHSV collection, particularly those produced in the second half of the nineteenth century and early twentieth century. Themes in the exhibition included Promoting regional Victoria, Promoting Melbourne, Victorian landscape, People and landscape, Pioneering life, Promenading on the pier, Sport, Hotels and guesthouses, Disasters and Decorating postcards (for Christmas). An online exhibition based on the 2002 exhibition was created in 2007.

Postcards can be catalogued in the same way as photographs. Descriptive fields can include Registration (Accession) number, Object name [Photograph], Title, Brief description, Subjects, Photographer (may include company producing the postcard), Date made, Size, Location as well as the usual fields relating to donor, condition etc.

In the brief description describe the scene in the postcard. At the RHSV we are also including a transcription of the message on the postcard.

As well as descriptive subjects for people, places, buildings, objects etc in the postcard, subjects can also include the name of the person/ people on the back postcard, if full name known, and any themes that you might like to use to group similar postcards. For example many postcards were sent home during the the First World war so World war, 1914-1918 could be a heading. Many postcards were kept in scrapbooks so if this is the case the name of the collector could be a subject heading.

If the datastructure has an Address field and the full address of a building is known this information can be included - town / suburb, street, number.