Philo Digitization Policy

The archives of the Philolexian Society are comprised primarily of correspondence, news clippings, flyers and posters, invitation cards, petitions, minutes, literary presentations and poems. As the majority of these materials can be lain flat without causing undue damage, these will be scanned on a flatbed scanner. Since the collection is relatively small, I feel that offering users the option of both JPEG and TIFF images will promote usage of the collection. Users with only a casual interest in the Society or images of its records—or with a slower connection—will not be left with only the option of looking at high-resolution images that may take a long time to load. However, as one of the central objectives of this project is to engage users with little to no knowledge of the Society as well to enhance Philolexian members’ appreciation and knowledge of, this collection will also offer TIFF images.

Some of the earlier materials, such as the Society’s 1813 Prospectus, are in fragile condition, so they may be filmed with overhead cameras that will enable us to zoom in on the handwriting. There are only two or three items that require such delicate handling, so taking these precautions to digitize images will not utilize a disproportionate amount of time, effort and training.

The majority of the materials will be scanned at both 600 and at 300 dpi on an HP PSC 1510. The 300 dpi images will suffice for most of the items, as they are fairly straightforward text against a solid background. Exceptions might be made for materials such as the membership certificates and drafts of literary exercises and poems from club meetings, which have more detail that will endear the materials to the user. These items will be scanned at 600 dpi and in 24-bit color. Images will be saved in both TIFF and JPEG format—the smaller TIFF images will appear as thumbnails on the website, and if the user wants to see a larger image, then they can click on the JPEG.

Each image would be credited with the following line: “[Identification of specific item]; with permission of the University Archives, Columbia University in the City of New York.”

The first items to be scanned will be the older—“founding,” so to speak—materials that offer the user a sense of Philo’s emergence at Columbia. This includes its prospectus, a petition to the Columbia University Trustees for suitable accommodations, and a report on the prospective admission of freshmen, all documents dating from the first 25 years of the society’s existence. At some point in the future, these along with other notable documents from the society’s records may be highlighted in a separate “exhibit” portion of the website, where a more thorough history of the society will be supported by significant documents and images.

After these are scanned, the next set of documents to be digitized will be the records from 1860-1930. This group is comprised mainly of correspondence, news clippings, articles in alumni journals, poetry, minutes, and flyers relating to anniversary events. This comprises 1 ½ letter MS boxes. The majority of the items are in good condition, so it should not take long to digitize them at 300 dpi. It is necessary to have these materials digitized before the website can be really accessible to interested users because by the late 1930s, the society encounters the first of several dormant periods it would experience throughout the 20th century.

The metadata for all documents will include names, dates, record type, year or range of years, as well as linking to biographical sketches of prominent alumni who have created or are otherwise mentioned in the records. With regards to some of the earlier handwritten documents, which may prove less accessible to a contemporary audience, a transcription will be provided and a link to the transcription will appear at the top right-hand corner of both the TIFF image and the JPEG image, so that the user will not have to click back to the TIFF if they are viewing the image in a high-resolution format.

Below are two of the more (literally) colorful images from the collection. Both are resized from the original 600 dpi images. On the website, they may likely be rescanned at 350 or 400 dpi, and then the JPEG image would present these two images in their original 600 dpi.


[To wit, this caption will read: Philo 1850 Anniversary Card; with permission of the University Archives, Columbia University in the City of New York.]

The second is a membership certificate from 1802 awarded to Ernest Cardozo (class of 1799 and cousin of Supreme Court Justice Benjamin Cardozo) in 1802.


[Philo 1802 Ernest Cardozo Member Certificate; with permission of the University Archives, Columbia University in the City of New York.]

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