Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Louisiana Colonial Document Project Underway

French and Spanish Documents
Storage boxes

Among the cultural and historical treasures in the custody of the Louisiana State Museum are some 70,000 handwritten records of the proceedings of colonial Louisiana’s French Superior Council (1714-1769) and Spanish Judiciary (1769-1803). Totaling almost a quarter million pages, the records have provided generations of historians, students, sociologists and genealogists with a rich source of data on New Orleans’s earliest days.
Here is a story of one Spanish Colonial  Louisiana document that also provided for a wonderful mystery on PBS program the History Detectives segment titled: click here:Galvez Papers 

In a race against time to save the antique documents, which in many instances are darkening, decaying and being eaten away by the acidic inks used in their creation, the Museum is re-housing the manuscripts and has committed itself to a multi-year, half-million dollar digitization and online publication project.
The project’s ultimate result will be a searchable online database of document scans and extant finding aids, freely accessible to anyone in the world with a web-enabled device. By making a tremendous body of source material readily available to researchers the world over, the project will offer up a fuller, more complete picture of daily life in colonial Louisiana, expand our knowledge of Louisiana history and culture exponentially, and provide new insight into our origins.

Because completion of the project is still several years away, the Museum is partnering with the LOUISiana Digital Library to publish some of the already-scanned documents online beginning in January 2012.

Known as LOUIS, and freely accessible at http://www.louisianadigitallibrary.org/, the LOUISiana Digital Library is a collection of digital resources—photographs, maps, manuscript materials, books, music, oral histories, etc.—from dozens of Louisiana archives, libraries, museums and other repositories. 

Completion of the colonial documents digitization and online publication project will require sustained effort and several hundred thousand dollars in funding over the next few years. The Louisiana Museum Foundation (LMF), the Museum’s major non-profit donor support group, is soliciting supporters and seeking grants to complete the project and to provide for management of the new digital resources to be created.

The French Superior Council and Spanish Judiciary records tell thousands of individual stories which, taken together, document the daily life of Louisiana’s first permanent European and African inhabitants, and of their relations with allied and enemy Native tribes. They are a treasure-trove of information and their publication on LOUIS will put critical source materials dealing with Louisiana’s history and culture at the fingertips of researchers and genealogists and will build support for the larger effort.
For more information about this project or to sign up as a transcription/translation volunteer, contact the Louisiana State Museum’s Director of Collections, Greg Lambousy, at glambousy@crt.la.gov or 504-599-1946. To make a donation to the project, contact Anne Atkinson at the Louisiana Museum Foundation, aatkinson@thelmf.org or 504-558-0493.  You invited to view the Galvez Papers here: http://video.pbs.org/video/1575582583/?starttime=1176060    

1 comment:

  1. Wow, this sounds like a very interesting project. Saving these docs is extremely important. Glad you're involved with this. Keep up the great work!