The Digital Initiatives Unit of the Indiana State University’s library’s Special Collections Department received a $15,453 grant to help the Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods Archives provide online access to Saint Mother Theodore Guerin’s letters and journals.
The project will digitize approximately 1,500 pages of original documents, translations and transcriptions and provide access to the digital representations through Indiana Memory and the Digital Public Library of America. The master digital files will be stored long term in the MetaArchive Digital Preservation Network.
“This is an opportunity for the ISU library digital initiatives staff to share their expertise with community organizations,” said Cinda May, librarian and chair of Special Collections at Indiana State. “We’re working to include English translations along with the French text to make the letters and journals of Mother Theodore Guerin available to a worldwide audience.”
This project is supported by the Institute of Museum and Library Services under the provisions of the Library Services and Technology Act, administered by the Indiana State Library.
The letters and journals provide a variety of insights into the culture and history of 19th century America, especially in Indiana. In 1840, Mother Guerin and five companions traveled from Ruillé, France, to serve the Catholic community in Indiana.
A prolific writer, Mother Guerin kept detailed journals and wrote numerous letters describing the experiences of the French nuns in Indiana’s remote forests. Composed between 1840 and 1856, the 429 letters and three travel journals, written primarily in French with some English translations, are preserved in the Sisters of Providence Archives at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods. Indiana. State students Kirsten Campbell and Jazmyne Magee were hired to help with the digitization and metadata creation.
“This is good hands-on experience for any history major and it’s always good to know more about how to analyze documents and handle data, which I am doing working about 16 hours a week on this project,” said Campbell, a senior political science and history major from St. Joseph, Ill. “Spending this much time on the project has allowed me to learn a lot about Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, too. I really didn’t know much about the college before I started, especially not its history or founding, and it’s interesting.”
Magee, a sophomore business major from Gary, Ind., travels to the Sisters of Providence Archives to scan and transcribe Mother Guerin’s works.
“I’ve acquired a lot of new skills since I applied to help with this project, like new computer software, how to input and analyze data and even a little of the French language,” she said. “The information I’ve learned is really interesting, too, and I think people will be surprised by all they’ll learn when everything goes live.”
The grant runs through June when the information is expected to be searchable through Indiana Memory and the Digital Public Library of America.
Media contact: Cinda May, librarian chair of Special Collections, Cunningham Memorial Library, Indiana State University, firstname.lastname@example.org