Friday, June 30, 2017

Now available from OHSU Library: Digital collection of primary sources and legacy data on public health in Oregon

OHSU Library is pleased to announce the completion of its digitization project, Public Health in Oregon: Accessing Historical Data for Scientific Discovery, funded by the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA). The project provides public access to digitized rare and unique materials related to public health in Oregon, as well as open access to the structured datasets they contain. The library is presenting the results in a digital collection of 351 items, as well as a narrative exhibit of original research on the history of public health in Oregon.

Among the collections digitized for the project are death records, public health surveys, Oregon’s earliest medical journals, hospital ledgers, visual materials, and institutional records. Many of the records address communities that are under-represented in historical analysis and under-served in health care, including communities of color, women, rural populations, and people with disabilities.

A distinguishing feature of this project is that it provides access not only to digital surrogates of print and manuscript materials, but also to machine-readable versions of structured datasets in those materials. To do this, project staff identified structured data within the materials, electronically redacted protected health information (defined by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, or HIPAA), and then transcribed and normalized the data into Excel files, which are available for download alongside the digitized image files.

The project director was Maija Anderson, Director of Curatorial Services. The project managers were Steve Duckworth (2016-present) and Max Johnson (2014-2016). Project contributors were Shahim Essaid, Research Associate; Kate Thornhill, Repository Community Librarian; Morgen Young, Consulting Historian; and Defteling Design. Student assistants were Rachel Blume, Rachel Fellman, Sherra Hopkins, Lacey Legel, Grayce Mack, and Sam White.

OHSU Library is honored to provide scholars, students, researchers, and the public with ready access to these materials, which may inform perspectives on public health in Oregon today. This project was supported in whole by the Institute of Museum and Library Services through the Library Services and Technology Act, administered by the Oregon State Library. Please contact Maija Anderson at for more information about this project.

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