|Weekly News Digest
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New National Portal to Historic Collections
American Heritage and the American Association for State and Local History are developing a new National Portal to Historic Collections, a system that allows searches through dozens of historic collections, from small local museums to collections of the Smithsonian, National Parks, and U.S. Navy. A prototype is now available at www.NationalPortal.org, and members of the museum community are invited to give feedback or comments. The site will launch later this month at www.AmericanHeritage.com.
Begun in 2007, the National Portal is a massive, multiyear project to provide information on 4,000 historical sites, including easily searchable online access to digital images and descriptions of millions of artifacts housed in the collections of American museums, historical societies, National Parks, and other institutions across the country.
The objects being added to this national “clearinghouse” include documents, photographs, paintings and artifacts, and run the gamut from military artifacts to artworks to the tools and mementos of everyday life.
The Portal has been called a “transformative event” for the history community. At present, an extraordinarily large percentage of America’s preserved memory is hidden. In fact, 98% of history museums provide no internet access whatsoever to their collections, and the few that do often include only a small percent of their holdings and use systems whose content cannot be read by search engines.
The site is expected to be used by researchers, students, curators, reenacters, and heritage travelers. They will be able to view thousands of never-before-seen treasures, including John Brown’s Bible, Abraham Lincoln’s chair, Dwight D. Eisenhower’s briefcase, as well as letters, military artifacts, paintings, and more. Photographs in the National Portal may be used for personal use, but permission must be obtained from individual institutions for use in publications, commercial use, etc.
American Heritage Publishing produces American Heritage magazine, which was originally founded by AASLH and is touted by many as the oldest and finest magazine of American history. The magazine’s 13,000-article archive is being integrated into the site, along with its database of 3,000 historic institutions, many of whom are members of AASLH.
Source: American Heritage Publishing
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