11 June 2013

Technology helping us access previously unreadable documents!

Image from original piece published by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council

It’s often hard enough to find extant documents with relevance to our research.  What about when we find them and then we cannot access them because they are too fragile and so unreadable?

Jean-Yves Baxter (GeneaNet) posted Reading the Unreadable: 'Unopenable' Scrolls Will Yield Their Secrets to New X-Ray System which refers to an article in the ScienceDaily with the same title who information is from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (UK).

Old parchment is often extremely dry and liable to crack and crumble if any attempt is made to physically unroll or unfold it. The new technology, however, eliminates the need to do so by enabling parchment to be unrolled or unfolded 'virtually' and the contents displayed on a computer screen.

You can find a YouTube video here (about 6.5 minutes) which talks about the process.

This is fascinating to me.  Anyone who has ever handled old documents or photos knows that once rolled, folded or otherwise found in a not flat condition, we are limited in how we can handle such and what information we can obtain from them. Never mind, horrible hand-writing, bleeding ink, faded ink and other challenges we often face with such older documents.

Are there other “new” technologies that you are aware of that are helping make previously inaccessible/unreadable documents available to us?

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1 comment:

  1. I took a couple of courses on paper and photograph preservation at the Campbell Center for Historic Preservation as an employee of the Smoky Hill Museum, Salina, KS. Two of my most useful educational adventures!

    Mary Clement Douglass
    Transcribing & publishing Kansas genealogical records