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16 June 2007


Mary Dudziak

For a discussion of a terrific, more recent collection, which I'm told will eventually include e-mail -- The Papers of Derrick Bell -- see this post on the Legal History Blog: http://legalhistoryblog.blogspot.com/2007/05/new-archive-derrick-bell-papers.html

Historians have been concerned about the preservation of digital records for some time. This has driven the establishment of some important digital archives, like the 9/11 Digital Archive, and the newer Katrina and Virginia Tech-related archives. Links are here: http://legalhistoryblog.blogspot.com/2007/05/april-16-archive-preserving-memory-of.html
In addition, the Library of Congress has begun "capturing" web content for preservation.

One of the greatest concerns is that, as technology changes, there may no longer be equipment to read older forms of data. The broader problem is taken up in an on-line essay "Is History Coming to an End?" on the American Historical Association blog: http://blog.historians.org/articles/6/is-history-coming-to-an-end
The article discusses "a technological minefield that may ultimately lead to the corruption, decay, and even destruction of the very records that historians depend upon....'Today’s history is born digital and dies young,'" writes David Talbot of Technology Review. Looks like we'd better write it quickly!

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