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This catalog helps us further our mission to share our irreplaceable natural and cultural treasures with everyone." Alison Bassett, Archives & Research Center Manager at The Trustees
ROCKVILLE, MD, October 28, 2016 /24-7PressRelease/ -- History Associates today announced a partnership with The Trustees to launch its first online collections catalog highlighting hundreds of rare and historic documents and artifacts from the 125-year old organization's collections. Among the rare items within The Trustees archives is a letter written by Ralph Waldo Emerson when he was just 12 years old. It was discovered tucked under a loose floorboard of The Old Manse, one of The Trustees' historic properties in Concord, Massachusetts. Now two hundred years after it was written, the letter is accessible online, so anyone can read the insights of a precocious pre-teen who was already a gifted writer, written in his own hand.
Like many cultural institutions, The Trustees face the challenge of making historical information more accessible while preserving fragile and irreplaceable materials. The Trustees Collections Catalog is the culmination of a two-year project to organize, digitize, preserve and make available their collections. For the first time, Trustees members, scholars, and the public are now able to view selected items from the collections from anywhere via any device.
The Emerson letter is just one of a selection of more than 30 highlighted objects, photos, and other documents from The Trustees collections that can be viewed within the newly-launched catalog. Website visitors can read the earliest known surviving document written by Thomas Jefferson, learn and see a tea cart by the celebrated designer Vladim in Field Farm Collection, a mid-20thcentury modernist home; as well as a Pilgrim Chest - one of the earliest pieces of American furniture in The Trustees collection.
Visitors can also access images from The Trustees' 116 sites, including Trustees farms and their operations over generations of family members, which will be of particular interest to local families, genealogists, and historians.
With a huge selection of materials to choose from, The Trustees' curators and archivists started the project by focusing on collections from three of their historic houses. All are National Historic Landmarks: the Old Manse in Concord, Naumkeag House and Gardens in Stockbridge, and Castle Hill on the Crane Estate in Ipswich. Collections surrounding 13 other properties are also represented. Each catalog record includes detailed information, and imagery, and new content will be added to update the collections catalog on a regular basis.
History Associates was part of the development team, working closely with Trustees staff and technology provider Preservica on the project. "Our goal was to provide the best solution to The Trustees that would meet several critical objectives," noted Mark Evans, director at History Associates and digital archives consultant on the project. After selecting Preservica's Preservation and Universal Access Web based platform, the team developed a collection hierarchy, metadata structures, and new search capabilities that would support the needs of both internal and external users. They also developed processes to facilitate smooth export/import of records from the Trustee's PastPerfect database into Preservica's Preservation web based platform.
"Data standardization is critical in this process," noted Evans. "We aligned the metadata and structure according to current best practices and standards, so the Trustees collection database has a common lexicon. This allowed us to build advanced search and filter features on the website, making it easier for users to find what they're looking for or browse through sets of items they'd like to see." He added that this structure also enables the Trustees' other collections to be integrated with the current content in the future. The Trustees have also partnered with the Digital Commonwealth, the Internet Archive, and the National Archives in sharing Trustees materials with a broader audience.
The online materials are catalogued using local guidelines and adaptations of national standards. Generally, several controlled vocabulary systems are used for names and descriptive terms: the Getty Research Institute's Art & Architecture Thesaurus, Thesaurus of Geographic Names, and Union List of Artist Names; and the Library of Congress Authorities database.
"We're known for our stewardship of natural and historic sites across the state of Massachusetts, but many people do not realize that we also preserve thousands of historical documents, objects, and artifacts that were acquired along with the properties," said Alison Bassett, Archives & Research Center Manager at The Trustees. "This catalog helps us further our mission to share our irreplaceable natural and cultural treasures with everyone."
About The Trustees
The Trustees of Reservations (The Trustees) is a publicly supported, tax-exempt, non-profit organization which cares for 116 scenic, natural and cultural reservations consisting of more than 27,000 acres in 75 communities across Massachusetts. We have been connecting people to the places they love, and to each other, for 125 years. Founded in 1891 by landscape architect Charles Eliot, a protege of Frederick Law Olmsted, The Trustees is the world's first land preservation organization and Massachusetts' largest conservation nonprofit. The organization's mission is to "preserve, for public use and enjoyment, properties of exceptional scenic, historic, and ecological value in Massachusetts" and conserve the character that makes Massachusetts' landscapes and communities unique.
About History Associates
For over thirty years the historians and archivists at History Associates have demonstrated that history is valuable in the market as well as the marketplace of ideas. They provide professional corporate histories, exhibit content, interpretive planning, historical research, archival services, and collections management to clients throughout the United States and around the world. History Associates strives to be The Best Company in History, serving corporate, government, legal, and nonprofit clients from its headquarters in Rockville, Maryland. For more information, call (301) 279-9697 or visit www.historyassociates.com.
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