2019 was an exciting year at the Lennox and Addington County Museum and Archives and we celebrated the end of the year by doing an update to the online database!
The past couple of months have consisted of large amounts of digitization, coding format of records for our online database, learning programming languages like Python, digital preservation planning and providing new ways to access archival records. I currently focus on strategies to increase digital access to the archival collection at the Lennox and Addington County Museum and Archives.
One way we increased access to archival records was migrating finding aids and indices into new formats. For example, we converted the format of the Photograph Collection Index by Subject (shown on the left) and you can see issues that arose from the import of the scanned document.
Once completed, this finding aid will be featured on our website to be able to search by individual search terms. Sometimes migrating files into a newer format causes import issues like this!
Above: example of editing sometimes required when importing from a scanned document into a Microsoft Word document. Even though I individually scanned each page at 600DPI the Optical Character Recognition software (OCR) still couldn’t read the majority of the words which is why we are formatting it as a Word document to increase searchability for researchers.
Left – Past Perfect Online, December 2018
Right – Past Perfect Online, December 2019
It has been one year since I launched the Past Perfect online database for the Lennox and Addington County Museum and Archives and to date, I have uploaded over 7,000 archival records! Available online are digitized records, descriptions of textual records, photographs, cartographic materials, audio and moving image records. In 2019 we had over 11,937 views on our online database pages.
This month I will feature new collections and digitized records that I have uploaded to our Past Perfect online database!
You can view all of the records listed in this blog at https://lennoxaddington.pastperfectonline.com/
Left to right:
Ada’s Algorithm by James Essinger, Ada Byron daguerreotype by Antoine Claudet 1843 or 1850, letter from Ada Lovelace to Charles Babbage, July 1843 and watercolour portrait of Ada King, Countess of Lovelace, circa 1840, possibly by Alfred Edward Chalon
While researching programming and the history of computing I stumbled across a biography of Ada Lovelace. Augusta Ada King, Countess of Lovelace (December 10th, 1815 – November 27th, 1852) was an English mathematician and often regarded as one of the first computer programmers. Ada was the daughter of the famous poet, Lord Byron, and spent her life studying mathematics and technology.
“Lovelace worked closely with Charles Babbage (1791-1871) on the design of his ‘analytical engine’, a machine for performing mathematical calculations, widely regarded as the forerunner of the modern computer.”
Ada’s work and a large portion of her letters to Charles Babbage on the analytical engine still survive and they provide an insight into her life and her knowledge of technology. What struck me most about Ada’s story was her ability to imagine a cross between art and technology, similar to how we interact with technology today.
I highly recommend Ada’s Algorithm by James Essinger if you are interested in finding out more about “how Lord Byron's daughter launched the digital age through the poetry of numbers”.
Happy birthday, Ada!
This fall we digitized 8 16mm films from the Harold McMurrich Rathbun fonds which date from 1937 – 1940. The films, which are mostly home videos, feature a variety of scenes including cooking, boating, canoeing, playing with dogs and having fun at a cottage. The videos give an insight into the daily life of the Rathbun family in the late 1930’s. Samples from each of the reels of film are now available to view on our online database.
It’s hard to pick a favourite from the Harold McMurrich Rathbun videos since each video contains interesting and different scenes but I would say A2018.016.2 is my favourite since the small dog reminds me of my grandmother’s poodle!
Left: two of the original film reels prior to digitization
Right: isolating frames in Photoshop from the digitized film to create GIFs and other content for the online database
You can see a sample of the digitized film here. Using Photoshop, I was able to isolate frames from the videos and create GIFs from the footage! Check out our Instagram page for the 1938 GIF!
Above: Reel 1 - Duck Lodge, 1937-1938 from Harold McMurrich Rathbun fonds (A2018.016.1) featured on the County of Lennox and Addington YouTube Page
Any guesses what this film could be? Stayed tuned for the answer and more digitized archival film!
Did you know that “Fred Ott's Sneeze (also known as Edison Kinetoscopic Record of a Sneeze) is an 1894 short, black-and-white, silent film shot by William K.L. Dickson is the oldest surviving motion picture with a copyright”?
Cronk the Cobbler
Another project that required a lot of work in Photoshop was digitizing an account book from Cronk the Cobbler. All that accompanied the donation of the account book was the name of a member from a local Cronk family who owned a shoe repair business in the 1870’s.
Above: one of the pages from Cronk the Cobbler, A2019.084
The account book may have belonged to David A. Cronk (born in 1825 in Germany) who was living in Camden East, Addington District in 1881 or David. J. Cronk (or David J. Cronkhite in the 1871 census) who was a shoemaker in Sophiasburgh Township, Prince Edward County.
Caleb R. Brown, Turner Card, Huffman family, Amos Wagar, William Hambly, Charles Benn, Levi Perry, David Hut or Hit, William Johnston, Charles Benn, Isaac Benn, John Card, William Shorey, M.D. Clark, Richard Tilley, Yarker and names from Lennox and Addington County are referenced in the document.
Left to right: original record on the scanner during digitization, files waiting to be edited and an example of a finished record ready to go up online
Unidentified Photograph Album Project
Another fun project I recently completed was the arrangement, description and digitization of several unidentified family photograph albums (consisting of over two hundred photographs) from the late 19th century. The photograph albums are accessible through our Flickr page. These photograph albums were a treat to digitize for their wide range in subject matter and sneak peek into family life in the 19th century.
Left: selection of digitized photograph albums from the Unidentified Photograph Albums on Flickr
Right: page from A1976.P(A)9
By far my favourite from that project was A1977.P(A)5 which is an accordion style photograph album and includes pictures of dogs in a heart cut out! <3
Here are some other favourites from the recent upload to Past Perfect online!
Top left to right: Photograph from the Peter Miller fonds (A1997.099), new index added to the archive record for Ledger of a Carding Mill, 1813-1814 (A1974.044), dog standing in a field with snow, Fred Brown fonds (A2018.061.261), photograph from the Peter Miller fonds (A1997.099), photograph taken by S. Suzuki of Japan (A2019.075.99), Daybook Of John Benson, 1848 – 1878 (A1974.052), horse and buggy in snow from Unidentified Photograph Project (A1976.P(A)32), Minute Book of Town Meetings, 1792 – 1849, Adolphustown, 30142 – 30254, Early Collection, Lennox and Addington Historical Society, Mrs. Farnsworth's Farewell Party which includes an index of individuals in original photograph (A2019.075.22), photograph of babies from the Peter Miller fonds (A1997.099)
Parks, Warner and Photoshop
In addition to the Unidentified Photograph Album Project, I recently uploaded two new family photograph collections to our online database. The Parks Family Photograph Collection (A2019.074, which consists of 174 photographs) and the Warner Family Photograph Collection (A2019.075, which consists of 223 photographs). Both collections have been digitized and are available to view on our Past Perfect online database.
Insider tip - use quotation marks (“”) in ‘Keyword Search’ around collection names to find specific collections or search terms.
Above: selection of images from the Warner Family Photograph Collection (A2019.075) which include a 19th century ‘selfie’!
2019.081 and 2019.082
Above: original negative envelope and A2019.082.2, Railway bridge over Napanee River
Switching it up from 19th century photographs, I processed two photograph negative collections from the mid-20th century. The Snapshot Collection (A2019.081) and the Smith Negative Box Collection (A2019.082).
The Smith Negative Box Collection includes negatives of houses and downtown businesses in Napanee created for an inventory in 1971 by Hazel Van Alstyne and Judge Smith. You can find out more on Past Perfect online!
Collections of the Lennox and Addington Historical Society on Internet Archive
Above: example of the Collections of the Lennox and Addington Historical Society Finding Aid on Internet Archive
One of the first things I digitized and uploaded to Internet Archive was the “Collections of the Lennox and Addington Historical Society” Finding Aid.
To access the index please visit https://lennoxaddington.pastperfectonline.com/
"Collections of the Lennox and Addington Historical Society" is a Finding Aid for records related to the early history of Lennox and Addington County. Included are records about Midland District, Upper Canada, United Empire Loyalists, Napanee, genealogy, military records, business records, land records, legal records and personal correspondence. The records range in date from 1790 - 1920's. Please contact the archivist for more information about the records.
The Finding Aid has been scanned and uploaded in a book format allowing researchers to flip through the pages as if they were holding the document in their hands. Internet Archive also offers a search function in the document which is great for finding your ancestor’s name!
You can also search the Finding Aid via the record descriptions on Past Perfect online under ‘Keyword Search’. For help with this resource please contact the archivist!
One record we digitized for the online collection was the School Record Book from John C. Clark from 1810. This record is from the Thomas Willet Casey (1834 – 1910) Collection from the Lennox and Addington Historical Society. “Thomas Willet Casey was born on October 25th, 1834 on a farm in Adolphustown. His father, Willet W. Casey, a prominent political figure, sat in the Legislative Assembly of Upper Canada from 1811 to 1812 and again from 1817 to 1820. Thomas W. Casey, a journalist, published or edited at various times the Napanee Standard, the Napanee Express, the Napanee Beaver and the Casket. He became widely known as the author of ‘Old Time Records’, a series of genealogical and historical articles on settlers around the Bay of Quinte. During his lifetime Casey amassed an impressive amount of information on local history and lore which are preserved in editorial articles and his notebooks.” (Collections of the Lennox and Addington Historical Society, page 42.)
This School Record Book documents student attendance starting on March 26th, 1810 and references a school in Ernestown.
Left: School Record Book, John C. Clark, 1810, Lennox and Addington Historical Society
In addition to using Photoshop and uploading records to Past Perfect, I have been learning how to code in Python to bulk upload digitized newspapers to our online collection.
I highly recommend the new Google App, Grasshopper, for anyone wanting to learn how to code or understanding how to write scripts.
I still have a lot to learn but learning how to work in Command Line and Python has enriched my skills for managing digital born records.
Panoramas on Flickr!
Above: taking a panoramic photograph out of a modern frame to scan the photograph for our online collection
I’ve always been fascinated by the technology behind panoramic photography (check out A Brief History of Panoramic Photography). One of the most striking panoramic photographs I have seen in person (with an interesting background story!) is the Summer Panorama from the Wm. Thomson Freeland Collection at the Archives of Ontario.
I recently digitized five panoramic photographs which now can be viewed on our Flickr page. Included are panoramas of Gibbard workers from 1942, Canadian Expeditionary Force, 146th Battalion at Val Cartier Camp, 9th Field Brigade R.C.A. (RF) Connaught Rangers, 1941 and (my personal favourite) Ontario Arts College, July 1922 (pictured below).
This panorama measures a surprising 110 x 20cm and includes a “Miss Vanalstine” which we believe to be Hazel Van Alstyne (second row, eight from the right). The photograph shows a wide range of 1920’s style and a nice day at the Ontario College of Arts (which is now OCAD – Ontario College of Arts and Design) in Toronto.
Which panorama from our online database is your favourite? Let us know!
People are often surprised when I tell them that I am an archivist and 90% of my time is spent working on a computer. How we preserve and provide access to history is changing. I look forward to changes in technology to help provide new opportunities for capturing digital content and new ways to interact with archival records. 2019 was an exciting year that provided opportunities for professional growth and providing access to a large portion of the collection at the Lennox and Addington County Museum and Archives!
Thank you for reading my blog this year and if you have any questions about collections posted online or have any digitization requests feel free to reach out!
Ada Byron daguerreotype by Antoine Claudet 1843 or 1850, https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Ada_Byron_daguerreotype_by_Antoine_Claudet_1843_or_1850_-_cropped.png#filelinks
Watercolour portrait of Ada King, Countess of Lovelace, circa 1840, possibly by Alfred Edward Chalon, https://www.biography.com/scholar/ada-lovelace
Letter from Ada Lovelace to Charles Babbage, July 1843, https://www.bl.uk/collection-items/letter-from-ada-lovelace-to-charles-babbage