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HistoryIT opens new branch and hires students

Posted on 12.11.2013

When University of Indianapolis President Robert Manuel announced the launch of a new website from the Institute for Civic Leadership and the Mayoral Archives on Oct. 9, he also announced a formal partnership with the company that made it possible, HistoryIT. Kristen Gwinn-Becker, CEO of HistoryIT, also announced that the company would open a branch near campus.


HistoryIT employee Stephen Taylor works to digitize photographs for UIndy’s Mayoral Archives.

HistoryIT is headquartered in Portland, Maine, with branches in Evanston, Ill., Washington, D.C., and  now Indianapolis.
“HistoryIT is a company that builds software and provides a range of services to digitize information in the historical record,” Gwinn-Becker said at the October announcement.
The purpose of the partnership between the University of  Indianapolis and HistoryIT is to digitize the Indianapolis mayoral archives, making them more accessible to the public and providing opportunities for professional training for university students. The company just opened a branch in Indianapolis, which is considered the University of  Indianapolis lab because the university has provided everything that is seen in the lab.
For the mayoral archives, the first major project of the Indianapolis branch, the company made a point to hire students from UIndy. Gwinn-Becker said at the October announcement that the new branch would hire 20 employees, 15 of them students.
“Last week, we opened our digital division lab just down the street. So it’s very convenient for students who would like to work there to learn what we’re doing, as well as be a part of the rapid digitization process that will create your entire archive digitally within the next year,” Gwinn-Becker said.
Sophomore computer science and physics major Hannah Vest said that she was one of the first students hired for the Indianapolis branch.
“Right now, I have been digitizing archives, and we are moving into a phase of the project where people are having to enter in other data for the stuff that has been digitized,” Vest said.
Vest believes the partnership between the University of Indianapolis and HistoryIT is significant.
“I think this is important because it is going to help us [the university] get ahead of the curve, of an ongoing trend of digitizing information to make them more accessible,” Vest said. “HistoryIT has a really efficient way of doing these things.”
Vest explained the process of digitizing the mayoral files, saying that HistoryIT provides training to the student employees once they are hired.
“I take a box from the archives that I am assigned to—folders and files out of the Lugar collection, I type in the name of the folder and each document in the folder,  label what it is and what is going on in it, and then I scan it and match the file name to the database,” Vest said. “That’s the first phase, actually scanning them; that’s how you digitize them.”
According to Vest, the mayoral archives project that they are working on closely with  UIndy is anticipated to be completed by September 2014.


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