I have also contributed my skills toward digital history projects in collaboration with Lawrence Greene, our archives and special collections librarian. I truly enjoy these projects because history can truly come to life when solid historic research is combined with good storytelling and wise use of technology as a tool to convey the story.
Our proudest effort has been to make the College Archive’s Betzwood Films Collection publicly available. The collection chronicles the history of the pioneering Betzwood Film Studios of Montgomery County. We worked with Betzwood expert Professor Emeritus of History Joseph Eckhardt and film archivist Katherine Pourshariati to bring the history of what was once the largest and most technologically advanced film studio in the world to life.
My primary contribution was creating the collection website including unique “mashups” which combine data and web services from multiple sources to create a totally new perspective. For instance, I used current day satellite mapping from Google Maps andcreated an overlay of structures and boundaries of the former Betzwood Studio so researchers can visualize the former site on today’s landscape.
Another key to this project was to digitize the original 100-year-old films so they could bewatched online for the first time ever2. Lawrence and I successfully wrote a grant for the project then I acted as the technical liaison with NFL Films during the digitization process. Finally, I edited the films3 so they could become available online.
This project has drawn strong interest and praise both internationally4 from film researchers and locally from families whose relatives who worked at the studios. The project was nominated for the college’s Innovation of the Year Award in 2012 and our team was also interviewed by Dr. Karen Stout on her weekly “MCCC on the Air” radio program.Click here to listen to the show.
The team is currently in negotiations with the Free Library of Philadelphia and the Library Company of Philadelphia to create a joint project to pull all Lubin and Betzwood resources in one site.