University of Rochester Debuts Massive Online Archive of a Woman’s Diaries from 1893 to 1914

maybragdonThe University of Rochester has announced that the online archive of the May Bragdon diaries is now available online. May Bragdon was the sister of architect Claude Bragdon. Her diaries spanning the years 1893 to 1914 offer a detailed look at the life of an ordinary woman over a 21-year period of rapid social and economic change.

The original diaries included 10 volumes. Over the years Bragdon attached more than 3,200 items to the pages of her diaries. These items included photographs, newspaper clippings, theater programs, letters, and other correspondence. As many as 14 attachments were found on a single page of her diary.

As a result of these attachments, archivists at the university had to remove the often fragile documents and photographs in order to see and digitize what was written on the actual pages of the diaries.

“We had to do a lot of custom development in order to retain the physical context of the diaries while also taking advantage of the digital environment,” says Adam Traub, director of the Information Discovery Team at the university. All 3,100 pages of the diaries first had to be imaged with the inclusions still attached. The effort documented how the pages looked originally. Then, each of 3,200 inclusions was removed by a conservator and the unobstructed pages of writing and all the attendant items were imaged separately. The project, which began with an anonymous donation in 2011, has taken five years to complete.

Filed Under: Women's Studies


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