Friday, January 21, 2011

Archiving the 3rd Michigan Infantry Research Project

Over the more than 23 years since I first started collecting and collating the stories and memories of the men of the 3rd Michigan Infantry, I've accumulated some 50 linear feet of paper: pension files, military service records, census records, etc. This primary source material serves as the basis for both my growing database as well as my biographical sketches of all the men, and of course for the history of the regiment as well.

Digitizing the entire research project is something I've thought about for years but only recently felt the technology and lowered cost allowed me to actually do it. However, growing concern about degradation of the materials -- paper doesn't last forever -- as well as security for the archives itself, led me to began a focused search for a digital solution and I found it in the Fujitsu Scansnap S1500M.

In November of 2010 I purchased the Scansnap S1500M, especially designed to work with the Mac. Unfortunately I've since forgotten where I first learned about this particular model but I remember researching it thoroughly online and eventually took the plunge, buying my unit on Amazon.

Since then, I have scanned in more than 5,000 pages of paper, and am barely a little more than half way through the biographies. The unit does require some attention -- you can't just load it with 50 or 60 pages and walk away. Even though it does occasionally jam or stop feeding, it always alerts you to any problem, and is quick to point out any overlapped document. It also scans in both sides (if you so choose) and generally works wonderfully, allowing me to scan documents in a variety of formats, including Word and Acrobat, and to switch back and forth with ease. (The software is intuitive and very easy to use.)

My goal is to complete the archiving process by the spring of 2011.


brian said...

This is great stuff, Steve. Kudos to you. If there's any help you need getting this material online please let me (and the ACW blog world) know.

Please, also, post more about your process of getting this material into digital form and how you mange/organize all that information. It sounds like you're doing some OCR or otherwise gettting from page images to text. You must have some good stories ...

Steve Soper said...

Thanks, Brian. No that the bios are all online I hope to tackle a few other items such as outlining the scope and layout of the research project, that sort of thing. Be forwarned, it's going to be boring. . .

Unknown said...

Hi Steve,
First off great site, I appreciate the information.
An ancestor of mine was in Co. H., Peter Winn. I did not see his name in your list of members, and his grave, complete with GAR marker is in Lapeer county. His biography, outside of ancestral/family info, is proving difficult to construct. Any resources you have found particularly useful?

Steve Soper said...

Peter Winn served in Company H, reorganized 3rd Michigan Infantry, an altogether entirely different unit than my research project. The reorganized (or "new") 3rd Michigan was organized in the summer and fall of 1864 and served in the Southwestern theater of operations, unlike the "old" 3rd Michigan, which served from 1861-1864 in the Army of the Potomac in Virginia.

I can tell you that Peter was 25 years old when he enlisted in Company H on Aug. 31, 1864, at Almont, MI, for three years. He was mustered on Sept. 27. Peter was subsequently hospitalized in Harper Hospital in Detroit on Aug. 6, 1865 and discharged (presumably for disability) on Sept. 15, 1865 at Detroit.

It is quite possible that Peter never left Michigan with the regiment.