Historical Society receives funding for new archiving system, volunteers needed to digitize items

December 15, 2017
By Marcy Shortuse

BY SUE ERWIN – Karen Grace is happy to announce that the Boca Grande Historical Society has received two gifts that allowed the organization to purchase a much-needed digital archiving system. The donations were from the Boca Grande Woman’s Club and Mark Spurgeon of Boca Grande Real Estate.
“The money received from these groups resulted in the purchase of the archiving, organizational and digital equipment to preserve a multitude of boxes filled with photos, audio tapes, CDs, maps and other items that need to be recorded,” said Grace, president of the organization.
The goal is to develop the History Center to become a research facility that will benefit individuals, schools, libraries, educators and researchers in Boca Grande and eventually anywhere in the world.
“Eventually, we’d like to be able to add a link on our website where people can search for the subjects they are interested in and access the archives online,” said Jim Blaha, chairman of the Boca Grande Historical Society and History Center.
Help is needed to get this ongoing project completed.
“We need people who can come and listen to DVDs of speakers and enter information into the database so it can be appropriately titled,” said Rose Marie Blaha, a Historical Society member.
Help is urgently needed to transfer cassette tapes to DVD, identify and scan photos and transfer information from floppy disks.
These tasks can be outsourced, but that would cut into the organization’s funding.
“We are so fortunate that Jim and Rose Marie have dedicated so much of their time to spearheading this project,” Grace said. “This is very important work, and it needs to be catalogued and preserved. All of the artifacts will eventually deteriorate, so we are responsible for making sure it gets documented.”
The Blahas have opened up the History Center at the corner of Banyan Street and Park Avenue on Saturdays for guests while they work on the archiving process. They’ve been comparing slides and negatives to more than 2,000 photos in a database called Past Perfect.
Many of the artifacts are stored off-island in a storage facility due to lack of space at the History Center.
The new equipment also gives the Historical Society the ability to borrow materials from Boca Grande’s early families, digitize the materials and return the originals.
The Historical Society is teaming up with the Boca Beacon to add a new feature in the newspaper each week called “History Sleuths.” Every Friday, a photo will be published and readers will be asked if they’re able to help identify the date, place and people in the photo.
If you have any historical materials that you would like to share, please call 964-1600.