Recent advances in document imaging have allowed historical records, photos, books and many other types of significant artifacts to be preserved for future generations in digital form. Today, there are countless initiatives worldwide working to digitize and catalogue important information not only to prevent its deterioration, but to make it accessible to a larger audience.
The following are 4 sources of historical information that are currently being preserved through document imaging:
- Silk Road Artifacts & Texts
The International Dunhuang Project (IDP) is an initiative to make available all information and textiles, manuscripts, paintings and artifacts from Dunhuang and the Eastern Silk Road areas. These artifacts date back from 100 BC to AD 1400. As of June 2016, a total of 489,707 images have been preserved and made available to the public via the IDP website. Through a range of digital document imaging techniques, the IDP’s partner institutions have carefully conserved incredible numbers of historically and culturally significant documents pertaining to the Silk Road, which may have otherwise been lost.
- Important Scientific Manuscripts
The Cambridge Digital Library, operated by the Cambridge University Library has an ongoing project to digitize original versions of historic scientific manuscripts. This project has made many important scientific texts available to a wider audience, including papers from Isaac Newton, and manuscripts from Charles Darwin that would later become The Origin of Species. High-quality images of each individual page within these and many other historic works have been carefully digitized and are accessible online for the public.
- Historic American Prints & Photographs
The Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Online Catalog is home to more than 1.2 million images that represent a rich cross-section of the historic images and prints held by the LOC. This searchable database features high-quality digital images of photographs, architectural drawings, posters and prints that document the history of the United States. Each is accompanied by a description of the image as well as any relevant contextual information and other related resources.
- Colonial North American Project at Harvard
Harvard University is in currently in the process of digitizing all known materials relating to 17th and 18th century North America contained in their extensive collection. From manuscripts to notebooks, musical scores to rare books, the documents span a range of topics such as religion, education, politics, war, finances and much more. Through advanced digital imaging, historical information from the colonial era has been made available online for the general public.