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Currents: digital history

The Colby-Sawyer Archives Go Digital

by Kelliann Bogan, Colby-Sawyer College archivist

The Cleveland, Colby, Colgate Archives has been making some changes recently ... for the better. At the beginning of the fall semester, the Digital Newspaper Database became available. This database provides full text searching of Colby-Sawyer newspapers and other historic newspapers such as The Youth's Companion, an American children's journal that featured the first publication of Francis Bellamy's “Pledge of Allegiance” as well as the writings of authors such as Louisa May Alcott and Harriet Beecher Stowe.

On Nov. 1, the archives will add another online tool to its repertoire: a digital library that will feature historical collections from the Cleveland, Colby, Colgate Archives. This new digital library will change the way that the community accesses the archives. Instead of attempting to visit the archives' physical location during its hours of Monday thru Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., anyone with an internet connection will be able to access digitized materials 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

This Project Made Possible By ...

Thanks to the support of the Cleveland family and a grant from the Davis Educational Foundation, the college has selected and digitized archival materials that are heavily used by the Colby-Sawyer community and, by Nov. 1, more than 500 pages will be available for use, with new materials added frequently in the future. This new site will make use of interactive tools such as tagging and user added comments, as well as a user-friendly search and browse system. Finally, the site will allow users to select materials that they would like to use and then order these items through the college archivist.

Materials initially available on the Web site will include correspondence from reformer Parker Pillsbury and his family to abolitionists and suffragists, including Susan B. Anthony, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Frederick Douglass, and William Lloyd Garrison; diaries and photographs from the actress Patience Cleveland (best known for her role as Grandma Death in the cult film "Donnie Darko"); and photographs of James Cleveland, who served as a New Hampshire state senator from 1950 to 1962 and as a U.S. representative from 1960 to 1982.

An Online Resource and Gallery

In addition to access to these materials, the digital library will also feature several rotating online exhibits. The first two exhibits will be “Not Your Typical New Hampshire Barn,” which will take a look at the construction of the Susan C. Cleveland Library/Learning Center, and “The Road to Washington,” a feature on life on the campaign trail that will coincide with a physical display currently on exhibit at the library.

The archives themselves will also feature two ongoing exhibits, the first of which will change bi-weekly and highlight a photograph representative of the season, an event on campus, or a moment of historical significance. The second exhibit, “A Day in the Life,” will follow the exploits of actress Patience Cleveland through her diary entries and will be updated daily.

The digital library will go live on Nov. 1, 2008 and can be viewed then at