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Chicago History Museum Card Catalog Going Digital

The Chicago History Museum is making its small manuscript collection, which includes personal accounts of early life in Chicago, discoverable online thanks to a generous Museums for America grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

"Scholars have relied on visiting the Museum's paper card catalog for the better part of a century," said Russell Lewis, executive vice president and chief historian of the Chicago History Museum. "This grant will allow the Museum's entire small manuscript collections to become discoverable online to researchers and scholars around the world."

This grant will fund the Museum's project to convert 6,000 of its small manuscript collections into fully digital catalog records. The collections will be discoverable both in the Museum's public online library system (ARCHIE) and in digital databases including WorldCat and EXPLORE Chicago Collections.

Acquired by the Museum in the early 20th century, the manuscript collections describe aspects of life in the United States from the Colonial era to the Civil War. Manuscripts include personal narratives of The Great Chicago Fire, diaries from Chicago's early settlers, and business and club records from the early 20th century.

The Museum is honored to be one of 132 projects that were selected to receive a grant from a pool of 558 applications.

The Museums for America program supports projects that strengthen the ability of an individual museum to serve its public. The program's three project categories are learning experiences, community anchors and collections stewardship.

"It's hard to say what will become of the analog card catalog now that it's retired," said Lewis. "Perhaps it will find a home in the Museum's historic collection."


Comments welcome.


Posted on October 23, 2017

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