Each month I open, catalog and archive a box of memorabilia. Box 3 contains diaries dating from the late 1800s and early 1900s. I've done some work with these diaries and love the additional detail they provide. It is time the contents were scanned and properly archived.
On Opening Day 1, I demonstrated a technique for making a record of box contents by photographing as you unpack. It was an infinite improvement over trying to describe each item! But, one of the drawbacks is that some items had loose papers inside. No problem as the location of the item can be recorded during the scanning process. But, since archival storage materials were determined during opening day, the unique needs of the inserts were not taken into account.
Stream-lining the process, for each diary, I first photographed the lead page of the diary indicating the year. I then removed loose papers from the diary and photographed them. Loose papers were then placed flat in an archival quality folder labeled with the diary year and author. Before the final archiving, some items will have to be stored separately - newsprint is notorious for causing problems. If a particular item is deemed worthy of scanning, the scan will replace the photograph in my digital catalog (see Creating an Archival Finding Aid with your Digital Cataloging Software). Below is an example of the photograph catalog of one diary.
Already I am thinking about the next steps. For diaries, digitization questions hinge more on what to scan than complex scanning issues. The items in the diaries include newspaper clippings, paper and stamps. There are some interesting storage considerations. Finally the fun part! There are many different ways that people have shared diaries - publish (online or in print) or only share with family? annotate transcriptions or not? print or not? complete or partial transcription?
If you have any recommendations on diaries or have seen any great examples of diaries in print (online or offline), please share them in the comments.