County trust raising funds for archive digitization

November 14th, 2013 | Posted by Kevin Corley in Document and Information Capture

Pennsylvania's Lancaster County, which is widely known as the heart of Pennsylvania Dutch country, has been in existence since the ways of the Amish were considered practically cutting-edge. Founded in 1729, the southeastern county is fast approaching its 300-year anniversary – and for all that time, the area has seen a wide array of local property development.

Although the Historic Preservation Trust of Lancaster County (HPTLC) is comparatively young, having been founded in 1966, the organization has spent the better part of the last 50 years gathering information on many of the properties that make up the county's rich history. In fact, at the last count, the trust had amassed records and photos pertaining to more than 10,000 properties, WITF reported.

According to the HPTLC's official website, the trust recognizes historic structures in the area by making them a part of the Preservation Trust Historic Plaque Program, which means they can proudly boast exclusive bronze plaques denoting their status. In order to qualify for the program, structures must have been constructed during or previous to the World War II era and meet at least one of a shortlist of qualifications that includes being the site of a significant local, state or national event or offering an example of quality architecture or historic preservation excellence.

However, all of the documentation gathered by the HPTLC is in paper form, which renders it vulnerable to damage from water, fire and other hazards. Because of this threat, the trust is planning to leverage document conversion services in order to digitize – and thereby protect – its historical records. According to WITF, the organization is nearly one-quarter of the way toward funding the project, but there's still a considerable effort to go before the goal of bringing in scanning hardware and other conversion services can come to pass.

The motivation behind the project
"We think [the digitization project is] important because this does preserve our history and culture in Lancaster County, and that's certainly a key part of why Lancaster County is so attractive not only to visit but to live here," said the trust's director, Joe Patterson, as quoted by the media outlet.

As well as preserving the HPTLC's paper records, the digitization initiative will also make it easier for interested parties to hunt down particular documents in short order via a searchable online database, the news source noted.

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