History Rescue: Endangered records archive

History Rescue ProjectHelping patrons understand their personal and regional heritage is an integral part of the Madison-Jefferson County Public Library’s mission.

This mission became critical when Jefferson County’s 150-year-old courthouse caught fire on May 20, 2009. Decades upon decades of records stored at the courthouse were no longer available to the public.

I collaborated with the county historian who worked at our library and a team of volunteers to create the History Rescue Project. It premiered soon after the fire and now provides access to indexes and full records of hundreds of pages of courthouse and other genealogical and historical records.

I coordinated the site design, technical, and content management aspects of the project. I leveraged javascript and MIT’s open source Simile Project to provide new ways to search and visualize the information in the database. The City of Madison Death Records is a good example of the patterns that can quickly emerge by typing “cholera” in the filtered search box. We leveraged MIT’s widgets to provide a timeline for our community’s history.

This site has since moved to a new server and design. Here is an Archive.org snapshot of the original site.