Thomas Pulhamus, digital technology librarian, shows members of the Friends of the UD Library the equipment used for digitizing materials.
The Friends of the University of Delaware Library Makes Generous Gift to Digitize Collections Focused on Delaware History
The Friends of the University of Delaware Library recently made a $277,000 commitment over the next five years to the University of Delaware Library, Museums and Press. The generous gift will support the digitization of a wide variety of archival collections that focus on Delaware history and culture, and are currently held in Special Collections.
The items that will be digitized are unique to the University of Delaware Library, Museums and Press and have never been made available online.
Among the papers to be digitized are the Wilbur T. Wilson Map Collection and the Delaware Miscellany Collection. The Wilbur T. Wilson Map Collection contains historic maps of the Newark area as well as the greater mid-Atlantic area. They were collected and created by Wilbur Wilson, a civil engineer and surveyor who was rumored to know more about Newark property and real estate than any other man. The Delaware Miscellany Collection was compiled by William Ditto Lewis, who worked as a librarian and archivist at the University of Delaware. It contains various documents pertaining to the history of Delaware, the surrounding region and the University.
The materials within these collections will allow researchers to chart Newark’s growth from the 17th century into the 20th century. They record both minute details of daily life as well as the more momentous occasions that are relevant to historians of gender, race, business and economics, and technological and religious history. Newark and the University of Delaware share an entwined history. The University’s growth from Newark Academy into the institution that it is today is clearly visible through a wide variety of photographs, early legal and civic documents, and letters and personal papers of early University trustees and other significant figures in Newark history found within these collections.
“The Friends of the University of Delaware Library are extremely pleased to provide this very significant gift to the UD Library, Museums and Press to kickstart and advance its effort to digitize a large part of the materials held in Special Collections,” said Jim Dalle Pazze, president of the Friends of the UD Library. “This project will provide students and researchers in the UD community, across the country and around the world with increased access to these valuable materials while at the same time protecting [these resources] from damage and deterioration.”
Other collections slated for digitization include selections from the Leon De Valinger Papers and a number of historic Wilmington City Directories. As Delaware state archivist from 1941-1970, Leon De Valinger was focused on preserving and promoting state history. His papers include documents that highlight the history of both current and former museums and historic sites throughout the state of Delaware. The Wilmington City Directories are the 19th-century equivalent of the vanishing relic known as the phone book. They include listings and addresses for tradespeople in downtown Wilmington as well as advertisements for local businesses and emerging industries. Paging through the directories can offer glimpses into past professions, such as stevedore, oysterman and cooper. Once digitized, these and other collections will lend new context to photographs and records with ephemera that provides human depth to the maps.
“We are extremely grateful that the Friends of the UD Library wanted to expand their ongoing support of the Library in such an impactful way,” said Trevor A. Dawes, vice provost for libraries and museums and May Morris University Librarian. “In addition to benefiting students and faculty at the University of Delaware, the digitization of these materials will complement existing holdings at other museums and archives, including the Delaware Historical Society and the Delaware Public Archives. The Friends’ are making this project happen much sooner than would otherwise be possible, and we are eager to make the collections available to the public.”
The Friends of the UD Library’s gift will also enable the Digital Initiatives and Preservation Department to purchase an additional high-quality scanner camera and scanning cradle and to hire a new graduate assistant for digital collection support. The new equipment will significantly increase our ability to scan material that is delicate or larger in size, and will expand the range of fragile materials we are able to scan.
“What’s wonderful about this gift is that we have the opportunity to provide hands-on learning for graduate students interested in the field,” said Annie Johnson, associate university librarian for Publishing, Preservation, Research and Digital Access. “These efforts–from scanning to enhancing metadata and discoverability–will support our work, while providing invaluable experience to students interested in digital collections and curation careers in libraries, museums and archives. It’s a win-win.”
For more than 65 years, the dedicated members of the Friends of the UD Library have provided more than $1 million in financial support to the UD Library, Museums and Press and its Special Collections to support the acquisition of rare books and materials. This most recent commitment marks a significant milestone in the relationship between the Friends of the UD Library and the UD Library, Museums and Press. For more information on the Friends, including how to become a member, visit library.udel.edu/friends.