Matt Shoemaker

In November of 2009 Matt Shoemaker joined HSP to direct the Digital Center for Americana (DCA) project. Matt’s tasks include handling vendor relations for a retrospective card conversion and development of CollectiveAccess, our digital assets management system (DAMS); implementation and modification of Archivists’ Toolkit software for the management of HSP’s manuscript collections and generation of EAD finding aids; database migration work; staff training on new system software; and the management of contractors for a card marking project. Matt earned his MLIS with a concentration in archives and an M.A. in history at the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee. Prior to coming to HSP, Matt worked in a variety of archival institutions in Wisconsin and assisted with document preservation at the archival building collapse in Cologne, Germany. He also has over five years of information technology experience.

This Author's Posts

The Historical Society of Pennsylvania is proud to announce that more than 6,100 collection level records are now available online through  Many of these records were previously unavailable online making this a valuable addition for researchers.  Information on nearly every collection at HSP is now available on These records provide a summary of each collection that will aid you in your research.  Examples of materials never before described online include:


When I started interning in the Digital Collections and Systems Department here at HSP several months ago, I had no idea what was in store. Though I had recently completed my MLIS degree from the University of Pittsburgh, the fact that I was working full-time in another field unrelated to library science, archives or collections made it so that this internship, along with another internship I’m doing here this summer in the Collections area, constitutes the first actual job experience I have in my chosen field.

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Archives, like nearly all fields, are being forced to do more with less.  Coupled with the denizens of the internet growing desire for more content at a more rapid pace and we have quite the dilemma.  Luckily, there are still a few tricks about that can help to lessen both of these trials plaguing cultural institutions.  The most recent of which I was able to experiment with was the usage of long-distance interns.


Before I even applied for my current internship, which is in digital collections, I debated whether or not I should apply for a traditional archive internship ... processing, describing, ladder-climbing, etc... To be honest I do a little bit of those now. Actually, I do a lot of ladder climbing (it's a good thing I got over my fear of heights during a rappelling excursion in college), but I do a lot more than that as well.


I am happy to announce that the Historical Society of Pennsylvania's new digital assets management system (DAMS) has officially gone live for the public!   You can access the DAMS by going to

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My internship at HSP consists of two primary projects that will hopefully contribute to planning a digital preservation strategy:  1) Identifying materials within the collections that exist on digital formats, such as CDs and DVDs, and migrating the files to a separate, secure location, as well as identifying materials that exist on legacy formats, such as 3.5” and 5.25” floppy disks, WANG disks, audio cassette tapes, VHS tapes, open reel tapes, etc., and researching migration and/or emulation solutions to ensure their preservation; and 2) Interviewing the staff of HSP to determine the types of digital files that are being created during the course of business, how and where they are saved, and what is being done with them.


As alluded to in a previous blog entry, we have been working on the creation of a musical finding aid for the Mary Elizabeth Hallock Greenewalt collection.  I am happy to announce that this finding aid is now complete and available for use!

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In my last blog post I wrote about HSP's ongoing wrestling match with its card catalog and the difficulties in converting legacy systems and data.  One thing I failed to mention is the importance of designing any information system with future data migration in mind.  This is of particular importance for an archival institution, like HSP, which has the end goal of maintaining records in perpetuity.


One of the major challenges we face at HSP with the Digital Center for Americana project is just how to deal with pesky legacy data.  Getting information online to improve access is great and all, but it takes a lot of effort to select, customize, and design systems so they can function together, integrate data from older systems (legacy data) and then provide the easy online access we have all come to expect.

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Posted on behalf of Lee Arnold, HSP Library Director

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