PSU students to spend break digitizing history

  Wednesday, December 4, 2013 2:00 AM

Pittsburg, KS

PSU students to spend break digitizing history

Days after opening presents and enjoying Christmas dinner, two Pittsburg State University students will be off for an interesting journey through history.

Jordan Boyd, a senior from Afton, Okla., and Jake Letner, a junior from Pittsburg, will spend the first part of January helping with the Lincoln Archives Digital Project in Washington, D.C.

“We’re really looking forward to it. It’s a great opportunity,” said Boyd, who has been working this past year at the Miner’s Hall Museum in Franklin and previously worked at the Dobson Museum in Miami, Okla. “It is definitely related to the kind of work I have been doing with museums and hope to continue to do in my career.”

While in Washington, the interns will spend time at the U.S. National Archives, where they will locate and digitize records created between March 4, 1861, and April 15, 1865. They will also assist in transcribing and annotating the records.

Letner said the opportunity to do the internship came about because of a discussion about internships in one of his history classes.

“I saw online that the Lincoln Digital Project needed interns and e-mailed Karen Needles (director of the project),” Letner said. “She offered me the opportunity and said I could bring a friend. I immediately thought of Jordan. We’re both passionate about history.”

Needles is a PSU alumna, earning a bachelor of science degree in 1986 and a master’s degree in 1987. She launched the Lincoln Archives Digital Project in 2001. The massive undertaking attempts to digitize the millions of records related to the Lincoln administration. This includes all executive, legislative, judicial and military records.

Although the project receives no federal funding, Needles and her volunteer interns have been able to digitize nearly 1 million records and have placed more than 45,000 online, along with maps, photographs, cartoons, newspapers and podcasts.

“Having these documents in a digital form allows researchers from around the world to access them,” Letner said.

Letner and Boyd will return to PSU in time for the beginning of the spring semester, but for a short time, they said, they will enjoy being elbows deep in some of the nation’s most interesting history.

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