Honus Wagner and Hillerich Baseball Bats

Pittsburgh Pirates’ great Honus Wagner was known for his bat.  Not just figuratively–he led the National League in batting eight times and finished with a .328 career batting average–but for his actual baseball bat, the lumber he gripped in his hands.  He preferred a 33 inch bat weighing over 40 ounces, massive by today’s standards,

Walter Johnson and his Fox Hounds

Even on its surface, it’s a compelling photograph. The inscription dates the image to 1926, but even without it, one could guess the era: the sepia finish, the rugged faces, the fedora on one man, the flat “newsboy” cap on the other. Even the weathered faces and wood-slat barn suggest an earlier age. There is an

Jackie Robinson Scrapbook may include the most famous photograph ever taken at a minor league game

The Jackie Robinson Scrapbook, recently digitized by the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum and HistoryIT, is a collection of photographs, newspaper clippings, and even baseball cards compiled by a fan, Jack Donovan, during Robinson’s career.  Among the many illustrations is a photograph that is perhaps the most famous photos ever from a minor

The Digital Scrapbooks of Baseball

Baseballs, uniforms, gloves and bats—these are the types of artifacts that come to mind when thinking of the National Baseball Hall of Fame. But there’s another fascinating type of artifact that many people might not consider and haven’t been able to see: scrapbooks. Today, when thousands of photographs and documents can be stored on our

Digital Imperative for Historical Collections

I read the April 2nd  Washington Post article about the discovery of the missing patent documents for the Wright brothers’ “flying machine” with mixed emotions. As an historian, I am thrilled that determined archivists were able to track down what is universally regarded as a national treasure, missing – likely due to being misfiled – for more

Analog Practices: Catalog Management Systems as Entry Points

This blog series on Analog Practices in a Digital World is an extension of a talk I delivered at the Impakt Festival 2015 “The Future of The Past.” It explores the ways in which our history, even when made digital, remains inaccessible. There are numerous analog practices and assumptions that plague the world of digital

Analog Practices in a Digital World

Our historical information is stuck in the past. For the most part, cultural heritage organizations are failing to connect the modern online population with our historical resources. I believe that the public needs to interact with evidence and stories from our past in order to build a thoughtful, informed society. And in order to interact

The Future of History: My TEDx Talk

At HistoryIT, we build, support, and enhance digital archives. We are committed to developing creative approaches, through which archives become powerful, engaging tools, accessible and meaningful to diverse audiences beyond the traditional researcher. Why do we do this? And why is it so critical to get this work done NOW? What’s the rush? I answer these

“Who?” is the question. “Everyone!” is the answer. Powerful digital archives reach and influence new audiences and are the key to needed funding.

The way we access information has fundamentally changed and this change demands a recalibration on the part of those who house primary source historical materials. In the past ten years, Google has reshaped the public’s expectations around being able to find information and form conclusions based upon what they discover through simple online searches. The

Kill the Finding Aid! Give the Public the Ability to Really Search our History

At HistoryIT we believe that the information in archives is of great interest to broad groups of the public, not just professional researchers. Yes, scholars know how to navigate archives in various states. They understand how to read finding aids that provide cursory high level or container information. They have the time and training necessary

Why is digitization so expensive?

At HistoryIT, we meet with a wide variety of organizations and institutions that are charged, either as their core mission or as one division of their entity, with caring for the historical records that tell the story of who they are, what they’ve accomplished, and what meaning is provided by their existence. We talk with

What’s the rush? Why build a robust digital archive now?

On any given week, I talk with 20-25 organizations or institutions about their efforts to build digital archives. Projects to preserve our history and make it accessible in a meaningful way are almost always placed on the back burner for “future consideration.” Some of these projects will never be considered again. Many more will get