The Charlevoix County Community Foundation presented a grant to the Charlevoix Historical Society for a new laptop onto which was loaded the society's "PastPerfect" program of 9,450 digitized images that provide a comprehensive overview of Charlevoix's history.
"This new computer is for the benefit of the public and allows anyone with a curiosity about any phase of the town's 16 decades of existence, or a need to do research about Charlevoix and the immediate area, to explore for themselves," museum co-director David Miles said.
The Charlevoix Historical Society began to digitize its collection in 2004. The two-stage project first scans the photos into master files. These files are on a discrete computer which is not connected to the internet to prevent the chance of virus contamination. The files are saved on external hard drives both at the Harsha House Museum and in a bank vault.
Then the photos are individually copied into the museum-oriented "Past Perfect" program along with supporting data, descriptive texts and people identification, and search term entry. This latter capability allows almost instant access to images of any person by last name, or any topic stored in the computer (houses, streets, hotels, schools, school classes by year, businesses and industries, vessels, the channel bridges, railroad history, churches, piers and lighthouses, Earl Young structures, etc.)
Digitizing, storing, and presenting the society's photo collection in this manner saves the original images from being handled and possibly damaged from manual use, Miles noted.
About 98 percent of the digitized images are available for reproduction.
Anyone who would like a demonstration of how to research a name or topic, or an explanation of how the Charlevoix Historical Society is both preserving its photo history and putting it to digital use through publications, exhibits, and programs is welcome to stop by the Harsha House Museum, 103 State St., from 1-4 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Call (231) 547-0373 for more information.