In college, I would ride the Greyhound bus back to school after vacations. Winding our way from Harrisburg, PA to Elmira, NY, we would pass many historical markers. Zipping along at 55 mph (or even slower), they could be hard to read.
Pennsylvania has created a database of its historical markers and made that database available online. The site is searchable by text, category, county or title. The information given on each marker includes marker name, county, date dedicated, marker type, location, category and text.
The word "digitization" means to convert to digital form. Indeed, these historical markers have been converted to digital form. They have been digitized. The text of each marker, and its history, has been preserved. And since each marker preserves a piece of history, this database also helps to preserve history.
Unfortunately, you do not see pictures of the markers so you cannot see where they are and what they are marking. You also cannot view a map of the markers. And you cannot do complex searchers. Yet even without those things, this is a good resource and I'm glad the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission has done it. Hopefully they will add more functionality to it.
What functionality could be added? Well, let's look at what information is available. For example, there was a Civil War training camp in Harrisburg called Camp Curtin. You can read the marker here. Without a photo, you cannot tell that this marker is by a park in front of a statue of Governor Curtin (info). And even this site doesn't tell you that this is the smallest park in the commonwealth of Pennsylvania (info). So if you just look at the marker database, you are not getting the entire story. Just the addition of a few links makes the history on the markers come alive.
Technorati tag: Digitization