There are manuscripts (including one of only three manuscripts containing e=mc2), letters from his personal life, his Nobel Prize, speeches about the Jewish people, and much more.
The digitization project is being launched with 2,000 high-quality images on March 19, 2012. The project will continue throughout 2012.
Over 80,000 records of documents held in original and as copies in the Albert Einstein Archives at the Hebrew University (AEA) and at the Einstein Papers Project at Caltech (EPP) can now be accessed with a user-friendly interface via the internet.
The Dead Sea Scrolls are a collection of 972 texts from the Hebrew Bible and extra-biblical documents found between 1947 and 1956 on the northwest shore of the Dead Sea, from which they derive their name. They were specifically located at Khirbet Qumran in the British Mandate for Palestine, in what is now named the West Bank.
Now, anyone around the world can view, read and interact with five digitized Dead Sea Scrolls. The high resolution photographs, taken by Ardon Bar-Hama, are up to 1,200 megapixels, almost 200 times more than the average consumer camera, so viewers can see even the most minute details in the parchment. For example, zoom in on the Temple Scroll to get a feel for the animal skin it’s written on—only one-tenth of a millimeter thick.
You can browse the Great Isaiah Scroll, the most well known scroll and the one that can be found in most home bibles, by chapter and verse. You can also click directly on the Hebrew text and get an English translation. While you’re there, leave a comment for others to see.
This is a really cool project with a cool video. Check it out:
I’d still love to go see the real thing someday, but for now, this will have to do.
In the Spring, the CEO of GoDaddy upset a lot of people when he went on an elephant hunting trip. This reaction would have seemed pretty strange to the public back in 1871, when Queen Victoria’s second son Prince Alfred went on a 5 week long trip through Ceylon (aka Sri Lanka).
This trip was documented in the book The Duke Of Edinburgh In Ceylon. A Book of Elephant and Elk Sport, and according to a review in Nature at the time, “It appeals to two sections of the public, those who eagerly seize upon every incident connected with the mode of life of any member of our Royal family, and those who are equally eager after any description from life of sport in those countries where wild beasts worthy of a hunter’s rifle abound.”
This case study from the ABBYY Newsletter is no exception. It seems that some monks at the St. Gregory Palamas Monastery had a problem:
“We have a number of printed documents in polytonic Greek that we needed to convert into digital text,” said Father Gregory of the St. Gregory Palamas Monastery. “They utilize the full array of classical Greek accents and breathing marks.” Since most unicode fonts support polytonic Greek, he knew it was simply a matter of finding the right tool. “We needed an efficient work flow solution that would undercut the labor involved in typing material by hand.”
In case you’re wondering, polytonic Greek is the type of Greek character used in ancient Greek texts.
The Monastery reached out to ABBYY, and ABBYY hooked them up with a copy of FineReader 10 Pro. While FineReader doesn’t specifically support polytonic Greek, you can train it to recognize the characters.
In exchange, ABBYY got some goat cheese and smoked salmon. Seems like a reasonable trade to me.
Back in 1799, George Washington wrote a letter complaining that he was short-changed on his expense claim. In fact, “the expenses he incurred during his recent trip to Philadelphia were more than the pay and emoluments that he received from the government and even exceed another month’s pay and emoluments.”
Back in November 1800, a fire ripped through the War Office and it was thought that all the papers in it were destroyed. It turns out that thankfully they were saved, and now there is a massive project to restore them:
Papers of the War Department 1784-1800 will present this collection of more than 55,000 documents in a free, online format with extensive and searchable metadata linked to digitized images of each document, thereby insuring free access for a wide range of users.
What makes this project different is that it is crowdsourced. PWD is using an open source tool called Scripto to open up the transcription to pretty much anyone (even you!). You can learn more about becoming a transcription associate here, and you can then browse the documents or search the archive and transcribe away.
The editors of the PWD project have also selected a list of transcription candidates if you want an idea where to get started.
So if you are interested in helping out with a great project, or want to transcribe a letter about Canadian refugees, they can use your help.
Being Canadian and all I am not exactly an expert on US history, but my understanding is that there was a President that was slightly popular at one time with the initials JFK. Since I am always fascinated by interesting scanning projects, I took notice of the huge Access To A Legacy project at the JFK Library.
The library teamed up with AT&T, Iron Mountain, Raytheon, and EMC to put together the archive, with the project starting in 2006.
To start its online archive, The John F. Kennedy Presidential Library chose to digitize its six, most important collections. These include the President’s White House office files, his personal papers, outgoing letters, and the photos, videos and audio recorded during his time in the White House. More than 200,000 documents, 300 audiotapes, 72 film reels and 1,500 photos from these collections are now available online. The contents here include a veritable highlight reel of Kennedy’s life and presidency. Students, teachers, researchers and members of the public can now go online to see President Kennedy’s inaugural address; or to watch him debate President Nixon; or to hear him challenge America to land first on the moon; and more.
If you want to check out the archive, go to the Digital Archive Section. If you just want to explore it without doing an actual search, leave the search box empty and hit Search (weird UI choice but who am I to judge).
In case you are wondering where this data actually sits, here is what Iron Mountain has to say (note: I don’t think it is actually inside a mountain made of iron, which would be pretty cool):
The library found this home in a sprawling former limestone mine located 200 feet below farms and rolling countryside in Western Pennsylvania. It is the Iron Mountain Underground, a high-security bunker for millions of government records, business documents, historical and pop culture treasures, as well as petabytes of emails, medical images and other digital files.
This 1000-acre facility operates like a city underground, featuring backup power for seven days, its own water treatment plant, two fire trucks and around-the-clock armed security.
You can see more about the archive by watching this Youtube video:
Now.. who did it, the mob or the CIA? Discuss in the comments.
What the heck are “orphan works”? I didn’t know either. According to Wikipedia:
An orphan work is a copyrighted work for which the copyright owner cannot be identified and contacted.
Here’s the project that the GalleyCat editor was working on:
While researching an essay about New York City poets and the Great Depression last year, this GalleyCat editor read through hundreds of pages from 1930s novels, periodicals, and self-published materials that couldn’t leave the New York Public Library.
He said since the archive is so big nobody knows exactly what each individual document stored there contains.
However, the information they expect to dig out will definitely include communication transcripts, communiques, memoranda, photographs, maps and other material relating to key events that took place during the war.
He said: “We have many boxes full of index cards, which have lots of different messages on them. But this will be our chance to follow a trail and put the messages together so we can find out what they really mean.
I love hearing about these massive scanning projects, especially when it is for historical purposes.
Most interesting to me is how they are already filling in gaps based on the documents they have gone through so far. For example, how “countries such as Spain, Switzerland and Sweden were perhaps not as neutral as they were portrayed.” Innnnteresting.
Do you have any other examples of big historic scanning projects? I’d love to hear about them in the comments.