The Connecticut Historical Society received federal funding to preserve and digitize thousands of historical records. This device is used to digitize books and other bound historical documents. The bottom tray holds the piece open with the spine supported, rather than pressed flat, while the glass is lowered to hold the pages flat. Tyler Russell / Connecticut Public

The Connecticut Historical Society has received $3 million in federal funding to digitize and preserve a significant portion of the museum’s archival material. According to Robert A. Kret, executive director and CEO of the historical society, the museum has been collecting important archival material related to Connecticut’s history since 1825.

“If you added up all of the manuscripts, archival material, all of the objects in our collection, all of the books in our library, we have a little over 4 million objects,” Kret said.

The problem is books, photographs, manuscripts and other archival materials deteriorate over time, even under the best conditions. Digitizing those materials, Kret said, is the best option to not only preserve them, but to also get them in front of a digital audience.

“We have a lot of things, and we would like to make images of those objects available in a digital format so that more people can see what it is we have and learn more about our shared history,” Kret said.

To that end, Connecticut’s congressional delegation has secured $3 million for the historical society to continue its digitization efforts, especially archival material from the Revolutionary War. The funding will also help expand the museum’s Community History Project and a new initiative with other history museums to improve civic education for elementary school students.

The historical society’s Community History Project collects stories from community members to ensure that the experiences, especially from marginalized communities, are represented in the future. A special priority for the project has been preserving stories about people’s experiences during COVID-19.

Kret expects the funded initiatives to launch in October.

This story was first published March 27, 2023 by Connecticut Public.