With a grant through the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA), OHSU Library will digitize rare and unique collections on public health in Oregon, and provide open access to the scientific data they contain.
OHSU Historical Collections & Archives, the special collections department of OHSU Library, holds extensive 19th-20th century materials on public health in Oregon, including manuscripts, photographs, publications, maps, and more. Historians, journalists, and health professionals have long consulted these materials for research on the history of public health. However, the statistics and other quantitative information contained in these analog materials are largely hidden to patrons in data-driven fields such as epidemiology, environmental science, and bioinformatics. Patrons in these fields seek to re-use and re-interpret this historical data for research and education today. This legacy data has potential to be of great benefit to these users and the communities they serve.
Among the collections selected for this project are death records, public health surveys, Oregon’s earliest medical journals, photographs, and institutional records . Many of the records deal with historically under-represented groups such as minorities, women, rural populations, and the disabled. OHSU Library will provide the public with a robust, online resource for accessing both the digitized materials and the data they contain.
The project partners OHSU Historical Collections & Archives with the OHSU Ontology Development Group, as part of the library’s efforts to develop innovative data services. The project director is Maija Anderson, Head of Historical Collections & Archives. The project team includes Max Johnson, University Archivist; Shahim Essaid, Research Associate with the Ontology Development Group; and student assistants Sherra Hopkins and Rachel Blume.
OHSU Library is honored to be able to provide scholars, students, researchers, and the public with ready access to these materials, which have the potential to help improve public health in Oregon today. This project is supported in whole by the Institute of Museum and Library Services through the Library Services and Technology Act, administered by the Oregon State Library.