Over my career, I have initiated and participated in many extraordinary projects. These are only a few, chiefly over the last ten years of my career.
Upon finding many students to be in need of computer education, but without getting attendance in offered classes, I instituted a Digital Literacy Certification program in association with the Northstar Digital Literacy Program sponsored by the Minnesota Literacy Council
Faced with a refrigerator filled with uncatalogued and unlabeled films and a massive amount of other work, I decided what I really wanted was to pack it all in a box, send it away, and then get it back later with all the films digitized in several formats. Having the material in different formats ensured that I could post the material on the web, have it on DVD for easy access by patrons in-house or for copying, and have a high-resolution copy on an external hard-drive. After applying for and receiving two Community Preservation Grants, I was able to accomplish this. After the films were digitized, I then cataloged each film in the NHA materials database; established a channel on YouTube and uploaded the films; and publicized the efforts through presentations, eNewsletters, websites, exhibition features, and other announcements. Clips from these films continue to be regularly requested by international production companies for inclusion in television, films, and presentations.
Oral history projects are often undertaken by staff and volunteers. Unfortunately, there is less often concern about what happens to the materials after the interviews. This project allowed me to take the pieces of many projects that were stored in various places, and in many different stages of accessibility and bring order to the collections. I was able to have over 480 oral histories digitized with the assistance of a Community Preservation Grant. I cataloged and uploaded each one, made any transcripts available online, adapted a database to accommodate the new material, and designed a user-friendly database interface.
Guided middle school students through the process of conducting oral histories with Nantucket fishermen. Interviews are included in the nationally acclaimed Voices of the Fisheries project. Each interview was also deposited with the Nantucket Historical Association, which was not affiliated with the project.
After realizing there was no access to cemetery inscription information available to patrons wishing to research their genealogy, I took on the project of recording the inscriptions on all the stones in the town-owned cemeteries. I started by designing a database and having a large number of volunteers input the information that had been collected by the Nantucket Historical Association in 1901 on the two oldest cemeteries. After this data was entered, I mapped the cemeteries, numbering all the markers, and photographing them. Often the damage to the stones was too extensive to read all but one or two words of the inscription; because I built the database from the archival records, this was sufficient to link the information. I applied for and received a grant for funding preservation efforts for the cemeteries, through the Nantucket Cemetery Commission, of which I was a member.
At the start of my position with the NHA, I found the photographic collection in a motley assortment of organizational styles, with a huge backlog. I established a general principle of storing items according to their conservation needs, chiefly rehousing by material type, assigning each item a unique image number that reflected its physical location. I then established the policy of “collection-level” cataloging with digitization and cataloging of representative individual items. This allowed the huge backlog to be quickly accessible and allowed to prioritize. Volunteers could then be assigned discrete sections of the photographic collections to digitize and catalog. Completed photograph collections could be publicized with websites, exhibitions, and presentations. Images from digital born collections and from manuscript collections are also included. Photographs from the NHA collections, once only known about and used by a few islanders, are now used by publishers, researchers, and documentary makers from around the world.
Weekly column for the Inquirer & Mirror newspaper, 2004. Topics include genealogy, photograph history, cemetery preservation, Nantucket history. I’m proud that at least one of my articles (“Cartes-de-visite: the first pocket photos”) is used for training purposes by the National Park Service.