One Year Later

It’s hard to believe the Hilgenberg Archive has been in progress for one year. In honor of my one year anniversary, I’ve re-organized my Hilgenberg Archive paperwork and made a priority list for the coming months.

This month we were able to install a server on-site that is completely dedicated to all 84,000 Der Deutsche Correspondent digital files. Since only half of the collection has been digitized, 42,000 currently reside on the server. When the second half of the collection is digitized, there will be plenty of space on the server to accommodate the entire collection.

Here are a few things that I have been working on recently:

  • How we are planning on making this collection accessible is always on my mind. During one of our regular library staff meetings, one of my colleagues made a suggestion: we should consider partnering with a university or other library with a strong German-language program or collection. This would be great on many levels. It would give us the opportunity to share the collection with students or people seeking this collection for educational reasons.
  • As an archive located in downtown Baltimore, we are very fortunate to be surrounded by many colleges and universities that offer advanced levels of German. I am currently searching for a university or college in which our Der Deutsche Correspondent collection would be a perfect fit.
  • The MdHS Grants Writer is currently searching for grants or other opportunities to help MdHS with sharing the archive. An archive of this size requires many resources. This is exactly why I would love for MdHS to partner with a college or university. The more collaboration, the more obvious this collection will be for research.
  • We continue to work on our options for Optical Character Recognition (OCR). A decision about which company to go with depends on many factors so a thorough examination is required.

We are very excited about the possibilities. I am looking forward to speaking with possible collaborators in order to make sure this archive is used to the fullest extent.

  1. Michael Brill said:

    First off, I can’t thank the Hilgenberg Foundation enough for preserving this amazing German-American resource. And that includes a hearty well-done to the work that you and your team have accomplished to date. It is much appreciated. I did want to comment, however, on remarks posted regarding access to the finished product. I’ve always felt somewhat frustrated by the inaccessibility of the Maryland Historical Society’s collection. Even if one lives close, the Society is only open 3 days a week now. Virtually nothing in the collection has yet been made available in digital form. So please make this project readily accessible to anyone anywhere in the world. It would be better to pay for it in some form that to be denied access behind some password protection on someone’s college website. Why not consider something like Google Newspapers? Please, please, get it out there.
    Michael Brill
    Kehl, Germany

  2. Mr. Brill,

    Thank you for your comments. Let me clarify our ultimate goal — the Maryland Historical Society, Hilgenberg Family, and the Baltimore Community Foundation are all in agreement that the purpose of the digitization of the Correspondent is to make this important resource available to anyone who wishes to view it. The idea behind collaborating with a university is to give students of the German program a chance to read it, learn from it, and cross check OCR. While the images might be on a website maintained by the university, it will be available to the public, not only it’s students.

    In regard to your comment about the lack of a digital archive at MdHS: I assure you that MdHS realizes the importance of digitization. This is precisely why they hired me as their Digitization Coordinator. However, it takes a lot more to digitize entire collections than simply hiring one person to organize it. Although our staff is small, we are focused on building a digital archive that will be featured on our web site in the future. With the anniversaries coming up, we are hoping that our Civil War and War of 1812 collections will be the first of our digital archives.

    Thank you again for your interest! I hope I’ve answered all your questions and addressed your concerns.



  3. fred schneider said:

    Wunderbar !

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