Preserving Historical Masonic Records


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Overview of the state of Masonic records and strategies for their preservation.

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Preserving Historical Masonic Records

  1. 1. Preserving Historical Masonic Records
  2. 2. Lots and Lots of Records <ul><li>~14,000,000 Index Cards </li></ul>
  3. 3. Lots of Data <ul><li>Roster Books </li></ul><ul><li>Minutes Books </li></ul><ul><li>Annual Returns </li></ul><ul><li>Officer Registries </li></ul><ul><li>Much, much more </li></ul>
  4. 4. Manual Data is Bad <ul><li>Bad Date Formats </li></ul><ul><li>Misspelled Names </li></ul><ul><li>Extinct Lodges </li></ul><ul><li>Missing Information </li></ul>
  5. 5. Index Cards <ul><li>Most jurisdictions have a card file. </li></ul><ul><li>Cards typically contain a smaller subset of modern datasets. </li></ul><ul><li>Card files are deteriorating in many ways: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Paper breakdown </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Are your cards on archive quality paper? </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Misfiling </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Ink fading </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Are you inks archive quality? </li></ul></ul></ul>
  6. 6. Index Card Risks and Costs <ul><li>Property housing cards is expensive: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Environmental controls. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Humidity and temperature need to be maintained at appropriate levels. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Access to information is difficult. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Access requires staff time. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Cards can be hard to find. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Cards are hard to read. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Handling them can damage them. </li></ul></ul>
  7. 7. Scanning Cards <ul><li>Requires professional grade scanners. </li></ul><ul><li>Requires professional grade software. </li></ul><ul><li>It is time consuming. </li></ul><ul><li>Cards commonly use many formats. </li></ul><ul><li>But… we need to do it. </li></ul>
  8. 8. Why Scan Cards <ul><li>Preservation </li></ul><ul><li>One fire, one flood and they are gone. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>You can’t get them back. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Morally it’s the right thing to do. </li></ul>
  9. 9. Scanning Process <ul><li>Cards are scanned to an image. </li></ul><ul><li>Image files need to be maintained. </li></ul><ul><li>Scanning projects can produce a large volume of data. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Hundreds of thousands of image files. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Data needs to be extracted from image files. </li></ul>
  10. 10. Scanning is a First Step <ul><li>Data needs to be extracted. </li></ul><ul><li>Formats of data need to be standardized. </li></ul><ul><li>OCR is not adequate for all cases. </li></ul><ul><li>Crowd sourcing data is an option. </li></ul>
  11. 11. Integrating Data into Operations <ul><li>Historical Data is frequently of lesser quality than modern data. </li></ul><ul><li>Integrating with operational system is difficult. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Missing data is the largest issue to get over. </li></ul></ul>
  12. 12. Grand Lodge of Massachusetts <ul><li>Scanned card file in 2009 </li></ul><ul><li>Worked with the New England Genealogical Society. </li></ul><ul><li>Extracting some data via Optical Character Recognition. </li></ul><ul><li>Looking at integrating data into operational database. </li></ul>
  13. 13. Grand Lodge of North Carolina <ul><li>Acquiring scanner </li></ul><ul><li>Using professional grade software. </li></ul><ul><li>Using staff resources to do it. </li></ul>
  14. 14. Masonicapedia <ul><li>The Goal </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Central repository for deceased member data. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Available on the Internet. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Available to researchers in academia. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>By Masons for Masons. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Grand Lodges can participate at the level they are comfortable with. </li></ul></ul>
  15. 15. Masonicapedia <ul><li>Initial prototype was created in 2008 based on MORI system. </li></ul><ul><li>Lessons Learned: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Existing data models are hard to adapt to historical data. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Deceased records data can be more highly optimized than operational data. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>To scale to the size of current deceased data for all of Masonry the data storage can be rethought and optimized. </li></ul></ul>
  16. 16. About Vita Rara, Inc. <ul><li>Mark Menard, President Vita Rara, Inc. </li></ul><ul><li>[email_address] </li></ul><ul><li>(518) 369-7356 </li></ul><ul><li>Visit our table in the vendor area near the registration desk. </li></ul>