Digital camera digitizes historic papers

Sept. 10, 2008 at 11:50 AM

BLACKWOOD, N.J., Sept. 10 (UPI) -- A U.S. scholar has devised a novel approach to digitizing historic foreign archives -- use a digital camera.

Christopher Gennari, an assistant professor of history at Camden County College in Blackwood, N.J., went to Sweden to research the 17th-century reign of Charles X.

But he encountered a major stumbling block: "The 17th-century handwriting was difficult to read, it was narrow, close together and in many cases nearly the entire page is filled with script, making it difficult to know where a sentence finished or began."

He said he then realized why few Swedes and not one English-language historian has conducted large-scale, archival-level work on the reign of Charles X.

Constrained by time and costs, Gennari used his digital camera to photograph 2,500 documents, producing some 25,000 images. If he had used a film camera, nearly 700 rolls of film costing about $4,000 would have been required.

"I have a lifetime worth of research documents at my fingers whenever I wish to conduct the research; 24 hours a day, 365 days a year," he said.

Gennari details his experience in the inaugural issue of the International Journal of Digital Culture and Electronic Tourism.

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