The Olive Tree
Town Reports Digitization Project
Let parents, by visiting the school, show their interest in its prosperity;
listen (if listen they must,) with caution to disparaging reports concerning its
management; and believe that a quiet suggestion to the teacher, or a kindly
warning to pupils will remove a molehill, which, with careful nursing might
become a mountain.
Our teachers are supposed to inherit some of the imperfections of humanity; their patience may sometimes be exhausted; their over-tasked energies give way. And, however valuable angelic perfection may be in their calling, their labors, vexations and treatment, are not, perhaps, best calculated to foster such graces.
Sound familiar? Thus the School Committee of Manchester reminds
the community to work with their schools in the year 1860.
“Suffering from the unprecedented freshet of the February preceding” the Augusta community moves forward in 1871:
…Now the scene has changed. The Kennebec bridge, at one time almost a wreck, has been thoroughly repaired as to be as strong and safe as ever. In place of the wooden and decaying railroad bridge, swept off by the flood, now stands a bridge of iron 960 feet long, a model of strength and beauty, and a lasting monument of the genius of its inventor, and of the energy and forecast of its owners.
And from the Cutler Public Health Nurse reporting in 1944:
A cod liver oil program has been carried out with most of the children in the schools participating. This has been sponsored by the local Red Cross but administered by the teachers. It has been very popular in the community and it is felt that beneficial results have been obtained.
What parent wouldn’t find it popular to have teachers provide this dose of
medicine to their kids?
These are but a few examples of the information that is recorded in the town reports of Maine and becoming available online in Fogler’s latest digitization effort. Whether you are interested in historical data on local budgets, infrastructure or education there is a wealth of information to be mined in a format that brings the materials right to your computer screen. This project involves a key partnership with the Maine State Library whose print holdings of town reports for the 500+ towns in Maine is the most extensive in the state with holdings stretching back to the 1850s. Together with holdings in Fogler Library’s Special Collections we have the potential for comprehensive coverage.
For this pilot project, towns representing the varied geographic, cultural and economical characteristics of the state were selected. On our web site at http://library.umaine.edu/townreport you will find an overview of town links to selected holdings . Categories of special interest include coastal towns, border communities and Native American communities. Towns with strong ties to various industries: fishing, lumbering and manufacturing are represented as well.
We have deployed a Google map to show at a glance what towns are currently represented. Just click on a balloon above a point on the map and the resulting pop-up window gives you some quick facts and a link to the holdings for that town. Where available, towns are visually represented by their distinctive seals which often depict a sense of the strengths or values of a particular community.
The diverse nature of the physical condition of the reports poses challenges in
the scanning process. Binding practices, fragile paper and print quality require
consideration as each print volume comes forward. Managing storage and providing
staff with high performance workstations to convert print to online documents is
a critical contribution of Library Network staff. Character recognition software
converts the edited digital image into text that can be searched word by word.
Staff members at the Maine State Library have joined Fogler in this last phase
of digital preparation.
As of this writing there are twenty-seven towns represented and all but one county, the last to follow shortly. We encourage you to have a look and send us your feedback at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Home | Olive Tree | Fall 2008 Issue