Monthly Archives: July 2009

Since my last post, The Crowley Company has had the opportunity to examine the fifty volumes of Der Deutsche Correspondent that the Maryland Historical Society has given to them for digitization purposes. Due to the fact that these bound newspapers are about oneĀ  hundred years old, prior to the start of this project, it was agreed that we would need to discuss the details of the approach Crowley would take to digitize the newspapers once the newspapers were in their hands.

The Crowley Company invited me to visit their facility again in order to answer any questions they had about the newspaper. They were also generous enough to invite Mr. John Hilgenberg, of the Charles Edward Hilgenberg Fund, who without their support and the support of the Baltimore Community Foundation this project would not be possible, Dr. Gary Ruppert, Author and Award Winning Genealogist, and Mr. Rob Rogers, Director of the Maryland Historical Society. All of us met with Pat Crowley, Vice President, and Meghan Wyatt for a tour and a chat about the newspapers and their condition.

All of these photographs were taken in low lighting without flash in order to prevent interference with the production of The Crowley Company.

First, we viewed where they store collections that they are currently working on.


The filing cabinets on the left hold the Time Life Collection that Crowley is digitizing for both Time Life and Google. Other collections currently stored here consist of glass negatives.

Next, Pat Crowley describes the QC (Quality Control) part of the process.


Above, from left to right: Mr. Hilgenberg, Dr. Ruppert, Pat Crowley, Rob Rogers. The cubicle that Rob is standing next to is one of the QC cubicles. Here, a Crowley employee does the necessary adjustments (based on the needs of their client) and makes sure every item that Crowley was asked to digitize was in fact digitized.

Next, we move in to the scanning and preparation area.


Above: Crowley laid out three of our Der Deutsche Correspondent newspapers for us to take a look at. These three particular books all vary in condition. Crowley just wanted to hear any suggestions I might have for scanning. We’ll return to these books later in the tour.

As we move in to the production area, we see all the different types of machines Crowley uses in order to get the best scan based on the condition and type of materials they are given to digitize.


One of the reasons I wanted Crowley to digitize Der Deutsche Correspondent was because I was impressed by how many Zeutschel book scanners they have. Having multiple book scanners means more staff can work on this collection and return the collection and digital images quickly (as quickly as someone can return 84,000+ images).

Below: Pat Crowley explains how someone uses a smaller version of the book scanner.


Below: Crowley employees scanning collections for various archives and museums.


Crowley had already placed a volume of Der Deutsche Correspondent on a Zeutschel scanner in anticipation of our arrival. They kindly showed everyone participating in the project just how their overhead book scanners work.

Below: Pat Crowley operating a Zeutschel.


The bound newspaper is placed on the book plates of the scanner, the glass is manually lowered, and everything else is performed through the computer.


Above: Rob watches as digital images are made.


Above: Pat is preparing for another image.

In the image below, you can see how the Zeutschel’s overhead light scans the item.


The computer displays the image that has just been scanned. Cropping and any other adjustments are made from the computer to the master file that was just scanned.

Below: A look at Crowley’s queue. Collections from various archives and museums.


At the end of the tour, we came back to the three volumes of Der Deutsche Correspondent laid out on tables. The purpose of laying them out was to show us some of the most extreme cases of deterioration that Crowley has discovered. As most people know, newsprint is very thin. It discolors easily. The youngest volume in this collection is 91 years old. The age and condition of these volumes makes moving or even turning the pages difficult. The edges of most of the pages are very brittle.

This particular volume below had many pages that were folded towards the end of the volume. Any attempt to flatten these pages out would surely result in loss of information. An alternative way of digitizing this particular volume is being discussed.


This next volume below appears to have a very weak binding. What will more than likely happen is Crowley will carefully remove what’s left of the string binding in order to scan the volume without causing more damage.


The next steps are to follow up with options for Optical Character Recognition (OCR) and for Crowley to continue scanning the volumes. Due to the fact that some of these volumes are extremely delicate, communication between myself and Crowley will be necessary and frequent. Crowley recognizes how important it is to keep me in the loop even though I trust Crowley’s instincts and expertise.