Resurrecting Print: The Hilgenberg Archive

Welcome! My name is Jenny Ferretti. I am the Digitization Coordinator and Hilgenberg Archive Project Manager at the Maryland Historical Society (MdHS). After interning in the Imaging Services Department at MdHS from July of 2006 through August of 2006, I was hired as the Imaging Services Assistant in September of 2006. I continued in this position and simultaneously completed an internship at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Anthropological Archives (NAA). I interned for the NAA in the Digital Imaging Lab from September 2007 through March 2008. After my internship ended, I was offered a contract position at NAA as the Digital Imaging Technician. I continued in this position until the end of February, 2009.

I have been in the position of Digitization Coordinator here at MdHS since March 2, 2009. As the Digitization Coordinator, I am also the project manager for the Hilgenberg Archive. Thanks to a generous grant from the Charles Edward Hilgenberg Fund of the Baltimore Community Foundation and with the support of Mr. John Hilgenberg and family, MdHS has been given the opportunity to digitize our collection of Der Deutsche Correspondent – a German-language newspaper which was in print from 1841 through 1918.

The Maryland Historical Society holds 98 bound volumes of Der Deutsche Correspondent, totalling 84,000 pages. This is by far the most substantial collection of Der Deutsche Correspondent. MdHS will identify, catalog, and make this newspaper available for research via web access. Some of the goals of this project include:

I. Provide access to Der Deutsche Correspondent using digitization for web-based access.

II. Implement a Maryland German Heritage program that provides for continued arrangement, description, and access to related collections at MdHS and make connections with other Maryland institutions of the similar collection.

III. Create a network of people and collections interested in programs and collection materials related to Maryland German Heritage.

An article will appear in the Maryland Historical Society Newsletter announcing the digitization of Der Deutsche Correspondent and the Hilgenberg Archive. The newsletter will mail on April 27, 2009.

Please refer to this blog for updates on the project, digitization process, events, exhibitions, related material, etc. Please feel free to email me with questions: We look forward to speaking and working with the community regarding this project.

  1. Graham said:

    This is very exciting news. I have a lot of German family roots in Baltimore, and I imagine I would be able to find some interesting snippets of information about them here. Is there a timeline for completion/implementation of this project? Will it be available freely on the web, or via a subscription service? I’ve always wanted to look through this paper, but never had the chance when I lived in Maryland, and now that I’m in Ohio, a research trip to Baltimore would be even more difficult. Very exciting!

  2. Hello! There is no set deadline for completion. The first 50 volumes are almost completely scanned. The post-production of the first half (42,200 images) will take months to complete. The images will then need to be made web-ready.

    We are currently researching ways to place the images on the web for research purposes. We have not made any concrete decisions at this point.

    Thanks for your interest!

  3. You may have already mentioned this elsewhere but are you intending to eventually provide an English translation of the digitized version of Der Deutsche Correspondent?

    Many college and university German language departments may well be interested in getting involved with this project not to mention the German Society of Maryland and site users at Der Wecker, an Internet-based German-American discussion forum.

    • Thanks for your comment! Performing Optical Character Recognition (OCR) will provide both German and English text from the digital files. This will enable users of the collection to perform keyword searches in order to research businesses, family names, etc. Having said this, we must keep in mind that the font Der Deutsche Correspondent used is very difficult for even the most advanced OCR software to pick up. We have received rough estimates of about an 80% accuracy rate.

      I’ve been in contact with the German Society of Maryland and they are very excited about what is to come for this archive. Loyola’s Corporate and Foundation Relations staff have been very supportive as well.

      Thanks for your comment!


  4. kalalauk said:

    Hi Jenny!

    Someone in the MDHS library today told me about your effort and your blog. This is pretty exciting and I can’t wait to check it out. 🙂 Thank you for taking the time and effort to do this.

    Just checking in to let you know that I’ll be reading your blog. 🙂


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