Fondly, Pennsylvania

Nearing the Finish Line on the Greenfield Digital Project

Wednesday, 11/7/12

As the Greenfield Digital Project enters its final months, I'm amazed at all we've accomplished and also trying not to think too much about all the work we have left to complete.                  

We've spent the last two years developing a new web resource that will tell the story of the 1930 failure of Bankers Trust Company, the first large bank to fail in Philadelphia during the Great Depression.

We’ve digitized, transcribed, and encoded about 350 documents (though not all made it through the final vetting to be included in the project). We’ve written brief descriptions of 148+ people and organizations involved in the story of the failure of Bankers Trust. We’ve created a custom XML text-encoding schema and planned additional contextual resources for teachers and other users.

As we continue proofreading and tackling a hundred other tasks, we’re now working with outside web developers and designers to turn our two years of planning into an actual, working web site.

We’ve known from day one the rough outlines of what we’d like to do: present document images and document transcriptions side by side, with links to annotation and other contextual information, and all within a web site that is either part of or matches HSP’s main web site.

But the devil’s in the details.

Do we want users to walk through a specific interpretive story, like in a physical exhibit, or do we envision this working more like a document database, where users can search or browse a list of resources?

Should our document images appear in portrait or landscape orientation, and what would it take to present both? What do we lose by selecting only one default shape, and what do we lose by NOT defining a default shape?

How do we want transcribed text from our documents to appear on screen? Should handwritten edits be displayed differently than typed text? How should we present shorthand notes that we can't translate into readable text?

The list goes on and on. We’ve spent many hours hammering out these sorts of questions and working with the developers to pin down how the new web resource will work.

Soon, we’ll get to see all these plans turned into reality. In the weeks ahead, we’ll be testing out an alpha version of the site, uploading our documents and other content into the system, and then testing everything again to make sure all the moving pieces fit together as we expected.

You can read past blog posts on the Greenfield project, part of a larger effort funded by the Albert M. Greenfield Foundation, here.

I look forward to announcing our launch in early 2013!

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