The University Record, March 5, 2001

Library marks MoA collection expansion

By Maria Bonn and Wanda Monroe
University Library

Kearns Goodwin
First Principles of Popular Education and Public Instruction, Westward by Rail: The New Route to the East and The Ladies’ Handbook of Etiquette and Manual of Politeness are just three of the thousands of books now available through the University Library’s Making of America (MoA) collection.

The collection, which contains about 8,500 books and 50,000 journal articles published in the 19th century, is on the Web. It includes more than 3 million pages of digitized documents that focus on topics ranging from the life and death of Abraham Lincoln, to 19th-century household sciences, to reflections on travel to the western United States.

“The digitization of the collection greatly facilitates use by a much broader community of users,” says William Gosling, University Library director. “In addition, electronic versions of these texts enable new avenues of access supporting innovative research, initiatives and projects. It is exciting to see heavy use made of this older historical material through the Digital Library access.”

Site visitors can conduct finely targeted searches or browse, working with individual volumes or getting a sense of the coverage within a time period on a particular subject.

“Book bag,” a new feature similar to the “shopping cart” on some Web sites, makes it possible for users to add markers and create bibliographies and searchable subsets of the collection.

During the initial phase of the project, approximately 2,500 (1,500 from the University Library) books and journals with imprints, primarily from 1850 to 1877, were selected, scanned and made available electronically. Librarians, researchers and instructors worked together to determine the content for the beginnings of this digital library.

The selection of materials for the first phase focused on monographs on education, psychology, American history, sociology, science and technology, and religion, and periodicals of literary and general interest. Subject-specialist librarians worked with faculty in a variety of disciplines to identify materials that will be most readily applicable to research and teaching needs.

Beginning in February 1999, with continued support from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and an equipment grant from Sun Microsystems, approximately 7,500 books were added. The collection is one of the largest thematic digital libraries available freely over the Internet, representing more than 3 percent of the monographs published in America in the 19th century (based on preliminary statistics from the Library of Congress).

“The Making of America collection provides a rich pool of resources documenting our America heritage,” says Wendy Lougee, Library associate director. “By digitizing the original print publications, many of which were brittle and disintegrating, we have brought new life and a new audience to these resources and been able to share our methods with the broader scholarly community.”

The Library is hosting a celebration of the expansion at 7:30 p.m. March 12 in the Chemistry Building auditorium that will feature Pulitzer Prize-winning author and presidential historian Doris Kearns Goodwin.

Goodwin, well-known for her expertise on the nation’s presidents, will present, “Shared Memories: The Lessons of History,” based on her experiences in writing three presidential biographies and her memoir on growing up in the 1950s in love with the Brooklyn Dodgers.

Other participants in the free, public program are Gosling; Donald Waters, program officer from the Mellon Foundation; and Sidney Fine, the Andrew Dickson White Professor of History.

Goodwin’s appearance is co-sponsored by the Office of the Provost, LS&A, the Office of the Vice President for Research, the Office of the Chief Information Officer, the School of Information, the Horace H. Rackham School of Graduate Studies, Friends of the University Library, the Digital Library Initiatives and the University Library.

MoA is on the Web at http://moa.umdl.umich.edu/. For information about the celebration or the project, contact Pat Hodges, (734) 764-8016 or phodges@umich.edu.