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Digital Collection Spotlight #15: The Year in Review

Posted December 31, 2020 in Digital Access

Digital Collections Spotlight: The Year in Review

By Jonathan Ennis, digital archivist

As part of an ongoing series of posts, we’re highlighting different collections and items from the Moravian Archives, Bethlehem, that have been digitized and are accessible online. Check out our earlier posts in this series at https://www.moravianchurcharchives.org/digital-access/.

As 2020 comes to a close we thought it appropriate to look back over this year and what has been accomplished in regards to digital collections.

The COVID-19 pandemic had a huge impact this year on the Moravian Archives, as it has for everyone, and resulted in significant challenges for digitization projects, chief among them the closure of the archives for several months during which the staff worked from home. While it was not possible to continue with scanning during this period the time was still put to good use as we worked on other projects, including starting to write these Digital Collections Spotlights and beginning to develop plans for receiving and preserving born-digital records.

Since returning to the archives in June staff have made significant progress on a major project to digitize a collection of materials pertaining to the mission work of the Moravians in 19th century Labrador. This project, titled “Uncommon Bonds: Labrador Inuit and Moravian Missionaries,” is a collaborative effort of Memorial University of Newfoundland, the Nunatsiavut Government, and the Moravian Church in Newfoundland and Labrador and was made possible through a grant from the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR). Currently, more than fifty-six thousand pages of records have been digitized, and we look forward to continuing the project into the new year.

As mentioned before MAB staff have been hard at work developing plans to be better able to collect, preserve, and offer access to born-digital materials.¹ As an ever-increasing amount of communication and record-keeping is taking place on computers and online, we recognize that we have a responsibility to preserve these aspects of Moravian history and make them available to future generations just as we have and continue to do with handwritten and printed materials. This will be an ongoing project as there is a great deal to learn and prepare, but good progress has already been made, and we are confident the results will be of great use and interest.

In conclusion, while 2020 has without question presented many new challenges to the work of the archives we have nevertheless been able to continue our work and expand on it and we look forward to a hopefully calmer 2021.

References:

¹“Born-digital” refers to material that was created in a digital media, such as e-mails or digital photographs, as opposed to material that exists physically and was then digitized.