Today’s post comes from Catherine Brandsen, National Archives Innovation Hub Coordinator
Earlier this month, the Innovation Hub uploaded its 300,000th page for inclusion in the National Archives Catalog. Amazingly, this milestone took less than three years to achieve.
Digitization opens up access to our records. Of the 13 billion paper records in the National Archives, we currently have 42 million pages available online. The National Archives is working hard to make as many records available as possible, and citizen scanning is key to helping us achieve our ambitious goal of digitizing and making available online 500 million pages by 2024. By crowdsourcing some of our scanning, researchers and volunteers are able to participate in the digitization process and help us open up even more records to the public.
By coming into the Innovation Hub and scanning records held by the National Archives, researchers create high-quality digital images. Instead of the typical process of researchers making one photocopy of the records for their own use, researchers in the Innovation Hub provide their scans for everybody’s use. Scanners are free to use and researchers can take a copy of the images home with them at the end of the day. The scanned records will show up in our online catalog 8-10 weeks later, and are then available for researchers near and far to use.
The most popular documents scanned in the Hub are files that are of genealogical interest. Researchers can request Civil War pensions, Compiled Military Service Records, Bounty Land application files, and more to be brought to the Hub for scanning. Thanks to their efforts, we have 7,000 pension files, 4,000 CMSRs, and 500 Bounty Land files digitized and online for worldwide access!
In addition to genealogical records, the Hub has promoted some special projects and “Boxes of the Month” for the Hub. These records are available for anyone with a National Archives researcher card to come in and scan without worrying about finishing the entire file. It’s a great way to learn how our scanning process works, or for volunteers to get a chance to work with original records.
Our current project is the digitization of the 100,000 pages of logbooks of Coast Guard vessels that served in the Vietnam War. Coast Guard veterans today use these logbooks to establish service for Veterans Administration claims. The more logbooks we can digitize and make available online, the easier and quicker the process will be for veterans and the agencies who work with them.
Staff also use the Hub scanning room. Some staff come in to work on their own passion projects, such as digitizing pension files of high-ranking Civil War officers. Employee Affinity Groups such as Stonewall@NARA have used the Hub to create scans of records for outreach and social media use.
If you’re interested in scanning in the Innovation Hub, please come on in! You can let us know if you’re bringing a large group, or if you’re interested in records that aren’t mentioned above. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss these kinds of projects and more.
As the Innovation Hub finishes out our third year of scanning, we want to thank everybody, past and present, who has worked in the Hub or scanned records. We couldn’t have done it without you. Here’s looking to 400,000!