George Mason University's Center for History and New Media is at the forefront of the new wave of collecting history





Photos of makeshift memorials. E-mails letting family members know the sender was safe. The New York Fire Department's daily action plan at Ground Zero. These images and items from September 11, 2001, and the aftermath of the terrorist attacks are bits of history that may have been relegated to the bottom of a shoe box, slipped into the pages of a scrapbook or discarded forever. However, with innovations in technology, historians are making large collections of recent history accessible and available to millions.

George Mason University's Center for History and New Media is at the forefront of the new wave of collecting history. The September 11 Digital Archive, the largest of its type, with more than 150,000 items, is among the department's 40 projects aimed at preserving history with Web resources.

The archive, which began from an initial grant of nearly $800,000 from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, is organized by the Center for History and New Media and the American Social History Project at the City University of New York Graduate Center. In 2003, the September 11 Digital Archive became the Library of Congress' first digital acquisition.

"You don't need a warehouse anymore," says Tom Scheinfeldt, managing director of the Center for History and New Media. "Archives can be held on servers. It is starting to revolutionize the way archivists work."...


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