By Melissa Hernandez Duran
In early October 1918, Michigan Daily headlines announced that the “Student Body [was] Free From Influenza,” and that “Michigan Football Prospects [were] Good.”
The student newspaper, which could be obtained for three cents in 1918, is celebrating its 125th anniversary this year. To help mark the occasion, the Bentley Historical Library is digitizing more than 12 decades of Michigan Daily issues to make available online. The Library will create high-quality scans and thereby reduce the handling of the original, fragile materials.
This project is one of many digitization efforts the Bentley has undertaken to increase access to its collections and to further the preservation of its materials.
A $50,000 gift from Thomas Buhr recently enabled the library to digitize the collection of William B. Mershon, a Michigan lumberman and businessman turned conservationist. His notable work to implement environmental preservation efforts in the sport of fly fishing—as well as many other areas—is documented in the diaries, notes, papers, and photographs in the collection.
“Historians and interested folks are much more likely to access information nowadays via computers, tablets, or smart phones,” Buhr says. “There may be fewer trips to the library stacks, but it will be far more time efficient. The original documents will save on wear and tear. It’s a win-win.”
The Bentley will also be digitizing the Department of Afroamerican and African Studies records, including manuscript materials, sound and video recordings, and photographic materials. The records document departmental history and campus, regional, and national organizations devoted to political and civil rights causes from the 1960s to the 1990s.
Nearly 1,600 recordings from the Library have been digitized through the Bentley Audio Digitization Project, which started in early 2012. This unique content includes audio of John F. Kennedy’s 1960 visit to Ann Arbor as a presidential candidate, when he announced the idea of a Peace Corps. Senator Kennedy campaigned for Michigan’s support while at the same time rooting for the Wolverines’ upcoming football game against Duke: “I ask you to join us in building here the kind of society that serves as an example to those who wish to trod up freedom’s road…I come here to Ann Arbor, Michigan, and I come here asking your support. By Saturday, Michigan will beat Duke…I think on November 8, Michigan and the United States will beat Duke’s favorite son and alumnus, Mr. Richard Nixon.”
The Bentley Audio Digitization Project also includes interviews, oral histories, musical performances, radio broadcasts, and more.
The Library is working on a new online access platform through which digital audio and video from these projects will be made available, which ideally will launch by winter 2016.