Work on the Slavery and Abolition in the US project was divided into several stages including the selection and preparation of materials, the selection of hardware and software, the processing of materials, website development, and content development. Information on each of these project stages is provided below.
Careful consideration went into the selection of materials for inclusion in Slavery and Abolition in the US. Criteria for selection were particularly focused on a) materials difficult to access due to their rarity, b) materials that contain a variety of view points, and c) materials that are at risk from a preservation point of view. Following the evaluation and selection process, the materials were examined for their ease of scanning. The majority of books were either too fragile or too rigid to be scanned in their original bindings. As a result, all items in this collection were disbound prior to scanning.
Earlier digitization efforts in the Dickinson College Archives and Special Collections predetermined the hardware and software to be used. The equipment primarily included two workstations (Dell computers) and one flatbed scanner, a Microtek ArtixScan DI 2020. Two additional scanners, a Hewlett-Packard Scanjet 7400c and a Canon CanoScan LIDE 30, were also used on a more limited basis.
The software utilized for this project included Dreamweaver 8, CONTENTdm 4.1, Adobe Photoshop CS2, and ScanSoft OmniPage Pro 12.0. Dreamweaver 8 was used to develop the static web pages that act as a portal to the materials in the database. The CONTENTdm software had been used to great success in a previous project, titled Their Own Words, and therefore the license for the software was upgraded to allow for the Slavery and Abolition in the US project. Photoshop was used for image editing and web development needs, and was also used to create the display images stored in the CONTENTdm database. OmniPage Pro was used for optical character recognition (OCR) of the scanned printed texts. The inevitable errors in OCR precision, particularly when dealing with faded texts or difficult fonts, were overcome by proofreading and hand-correcting the output, allowing a greater degree of accuracy in the final digital product.
As with the selection of hardware and software, previous digitization efforts predetermined our processing workflow as well. For the transcription of printed texts, we adhered to internal standards that were adopted for earlier digital projects, to ensure consistency of presentation and interpretation. We also followed internal standards with regard to scanning specifications and metadata specifications. For more detailed information about these internal standards, we have included the following documents developed by the project staff, presented in PDF format:
The processing of materials did not always follow a linear path due to the division of labor and different preparations needed for different materials. The basic steps for most materials were as follows: disbinding, scanning, OCRing, creating a back-up copy of the archival TIFF image and RTF transcription, creating a presentation JPEG image and TXT transcription, uploading the information into the CONTENTdm database, entering the metadata, and then digitally "recreating" the book or collection within CONTENTdm.
Website development was carried out at various points of the project, and maintenance of the website will continue following the end of active project development. The design decided upon is the product of collaboration among all of the project staff and is comprised of two levels. The first level consists of static HTML pages that provide basic site information and navigation as well as an individual "main" page for each item in the collection. The second level consists of the CONTENTdm functions used to facilitate searching and recreating the books and pamphlets in their digital forms.
Content development refers to the process of research and writing to provide some very basic background information for users regarding the authors, their works, and the context in which these works were written. Most of the original content on the Slavery and Abolition in the US website was produced by the project coordinator and edited by the project directors. This content includes brief biographical sketches of each author and the single-sentence descriptions for each publication.