WMU News

WMU lands grant to digitize Civil War diaries

July 13, 2005

KALAMAZOO--A grant to Western Michigan University Libraries will not only keep the diaries of eight Civil War soldiers alive, but will help share these treasures with the world through the technological innovation of digitization.

The $95,619 grant from the Library of Michigan will be used to digitize the Civil War diaries of eight men who served in several Midwestern Union regiments. The diary entries represent a wide variety of experiences and perspectives, ranging from that of musician to a prisoner of war.

"Profiting from our recently established Digitization Center, located in Waldo Library, and the monies of this grant, University Libraries will be able to bring rare and unique resources in our Archives--Michigan Civil War diary manuscripts--to larger groups of users in a readily accessible electronic format," says Dr. Joseph Reish, WMU dean of University Libraries. "Eventually our patrons will be able access these diaries 24/7 from anywhere in the world through the Internet."

The digitized service also will provide a search tool using keyword and subject recognition, Reish adds.

The award makes University Libraries one of 10 recipients of the 2005 Digitization for Preservation and Access grants totaling $965,000 that were announced recently by the Library of Michigan. The grants are part of a statewide effort to digitize valuable and significant local and state-related information held in Michigan libraries and make it easily available via the Michigan eLibrary and the Internet.

Reish credits four people with securing the grant. Those involved in the project are Dr. Sharon Carlson, principal investigator of the grant and director of the WMU University Archives and Regional History Collections; Bettina Meyer, University Libraries assistant dean for resources, who will administer the grant program and oversee personnel; Paul Howell, manager of the WMU Libraries Digitization Center, who will oversee all technological aspects and adherence to industry standards; and Lou Ann Morgan, who will serve as coordinator of the grant project.

"This grant not only makes possible the sharing of these diaries with people around the world, it helps University Libraries fulfill its mission to support the academic enterprise at WMU in teaching, research, and student learning," Reish says.

Media contact: Mark Schwerin, 269 387-8400, mark.schwerin@wmich.edu

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