A digital archive of historical photos, documents, and objects will be available online beginning April 24 on the Old Bristol Historical Society’s website.
The project was initiated in 2015 by then co-presidents Belinda Osier and Chuck Rand, and is now managed by Rand who is collections committee chair. In 2016 the society purchased scanning hardware and museum software called PastPerfect. The software enables the creation of records that may be searchable by subject, name, date, and key word.
Rand has so far created searchable records for more than 2,300 of the more than 8,500 images in the archive. Most records are historic photos. Until now, the society’s primary way of sharing its archive has been through Facebook posts and periodic slide-show programs. With the advent of online search capability, the society will also expand indexing of the historical documents and genealogical materials in its archive.
In 2019 the society purchased additional software and raised funds to pay the $600 annual hosting fee for PastPerfect’s online service for two years. Once community members, historians, genealogists and others interested in Bristol’s history are able to access the society’s collections online, Rand hopes there will be ongoing financial support to continue the service.
More than 50 individuals and organizations have donated or loaned historic items from personal and family collections over the past five years for digital scanning. Two collectors of local postcards, Kendall Fossett and Craig Elliott, have recently loaned portions of their collections for scanning. More than 1,400 of Fossett’s postcards have been scanned, and selected images are being shared with the public on the society’s Facebook page in ongoing posts.
Other donations and historical materials include: Lori Crook (materials related to the Little Brown Church, which her Hinds ancestors were instrumental in founding), Lorraine Morong (materials about Louds Island, where she has been a summer resident for nearly 60 years), and Kendrick Wilson (old photos, mostly of residents of Louds Island, where his mother taught school).
PastPerfect Online is also used by 16 other Maine historical societies, libraries, and museums, according to the company’s website, ranging from the Maine Historical Society in Portland to the Mount Desert Historical Society. PastPerfect record-keeping software is used by 11,000 nonprofit organizations around the world.