April 29, 1999
Vol. 18 No. 15

current issue
archive / search

    [letter] courtesy of special collections, uofc library
    One of the documents from the Reuben T. Durrett Collection to be installed in the Internet project being coordinated by the Special Collections Department at the Joseph Regenstein Library is the letter pictured above. The letter was written Aug. 23, 1785, by Daniel Boone to William Cristen.

    Award will allow staff at Regenstein to design a virtual library of history

    By Theresa Carson
    News Office

    Nearly 15,000 pages of American history will become a virtual library of information when the Special Collections Department of the Joseph Regenstein Library and the Filson Club Historical Society in Louisville, Ky., complete an Internet project funded by a Library of Congress/Ameritech National Digital Library Competition award.

    “With this project and others like it, libraries have made great progress in finding ways to present their materials on the Web,” said Alice Schreyer, Curator of Special Collections.

    The Library of Congress/Ameritech award was established in 1996 to assist historical societies, museums, archival institutions and research, academic and public libraries in producing digital collections of primary sources.

    The more than $145,000 award will allow library staff to collaborate with the Filson Club to produce “The First American West: The Ohio River Valley, 1750-1820.” The project will include portions of the library’s Reuben Durrett Collection and items from the historical society’s holdings.

    Durrett, a lawyer, civic leader, honorary Civil War colonel and founder of the Filson Club, collected historical documents about Kentucky with the hope that one day the city of Louisville would purchase the materials.

    In 1913, the University purchased Durrett’s collection, among the first primary sources to support research in teaching of American history acquired by the institution, said Schreyer. Following the sale, the Filson Club continued to gather materials and rebuild its collection.

    The materials that will appear on the Web site will include documents such as manuscripts, letters, broadsides, books, maps and travel accounts, said Schreyer. Library staff will provide technical training and support to Filson Club staff members. Approximately 270 items from the Filson Club and another 475 items from Special Collections will be placed on the site, which also will include thematic essays to provide intellectual context for users.

    The site is expected to be used by school teachers, however, the materials also will interest University students and faculty, Schreyer said.

    The Regenstein Library received a 1996-1997 award that enabled the library to produce “American Environmental Photographs, 1897-1931,” a digitized collection of photographs.

    Schreyer expressed enthusiasm for the program. “The Library of Congress/Ameritech award is fostering a collaboration to unite closely related collections that are physically separate and extending our collection far beyond the reading room, ” she said.