TB Research Perspectives Digitization

History in the New Media Carl Glenn
G57.1023-001 Feb. 19, 2009
Prof. C. Hajo

Digitization of Original Documents for TB Research Perspectives Website Project

The digitization of original materials for the TB Research Perspectives Website Project is dictated by two factors: the nature of the original documents and the purposes for which they will be used by visitors to the website.

The documents that form the core of the collection and the reason for initiating this project are all published research articles. The intrinsic value of these articles lies entirely in their content. Therefore, viewing the original articles as they appeared in the scholarly publications in which they were first published has little value. Our intention is to reproduce the original articles by keying them in to give the texts all the functionality available to digital texts enhanced by full word-search capabilities as well as XML markup and tagging for additional manipulations. Any unusual scientific terminological usage that may date a given article to a given time or place will be reproduced in this process. Because it will incur no additional costs and very little additional time in preparation, we are planning to make the PDF facsimiles of the original articles available alongside the digitized texts. This will accomplish two objectives. In addition to making the originals viewable this also provides the project with the ability to verify the integrity of the copies, or conversely, to prove that any changes made through errors in keyboard input were made in good faith. This may also serve as an ongoing proofreading and polishing of the copies, as readers could be invited to email any corrections for any errors that might have inadvertently introduced. If there have, in fact, been changes in meanings or usages, having the originals available for comparison will demonstrate that nothing that may appear as a modern eccentricity as added but did in fact appear exactly that way in the original publication.

We are not planning to include any historical manuscripts or annotated copies, which may have hand-made markings, which might have special meaning if they were to have been made by one of the historical researchers, clinicians or patients. If such documents should become available and are considered by the subject matter experts on the website content committee to have special importance, we will revise this policy to capture whatever meaning is added by the subjective interpretation of hand-drawn notes, figures, annotations, etc. At this point, however, we anticipate no such documents.

Nevertheless, we are hoping to include historic photographs, public health posters and other graphic materials. We have access to a quantity of historic photographs, taken at Bellevue Hospital in the tuberculosis wards during the early decades of the 20thcentury. We have a number of these images, which have already been digitized, and hope to use them with the permission of the Facilities Department at Bellevue. There may be some special difficulty with some of these images because the collection of photos represents an archive of the work of divisions of Columbia University, Cornell University, New York University, and a fourth medical training institution that all had divisions treating patients at Bellevue. But for the sake of the discussion of digitization we will assume we have obtained the permission to reproduce these images on the website. For the purposes of our web presentation then, it will not be necessary to post these photographs at a resolution higher than 72 dots per inch. As the format of the Drupal content management system we will be using to build our pages will not permit sizes greater than 700 pixels in either dimension in the standard format, none of the images we will display will be high resolution (the images displayed on the site as a general rule will not exceed a file size of 50k). We may post an intermediate size image for people with special interest and/or a higher bandwidth connection. However, these probably would not exceed approximately 150k. One possibility we are considering is to offer the images in higher resolution formats suitable for print reproduction for sale on the website (these would be images in the multi-megabyte range. If we were to obtain the agreement of the Bellevue Facilities group and the administration of the School of Medicine, we could conceivably use this as a source of revenue for purpose of defraying expenses. Even though some of the images are quite poignant and dramatically capture the nature of tuberculosis treatment during that earlier period, it is unlikely that much money would be raised in this manner.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License