Campus News

Bowdoin History Jumps Online

Story posted May 01, 2012

Books on the history of the College, long out of print and rarely available outside the confines of the Bowdoin College Library, are now freely accessible on the Web from anywhere in the world thanks to Bowdoin’s participation in the LYRASIS Mass Digitization Collaborative, a Sloan Foundation grant-subsidized program that has made digitization easy and affordable for libraries and cultural institutions across the country. Through the Collaborative’s partnership with the Internet Archive, all items have been scanned from cover-to-cover and in full color, are fully text-searchable, and can be read either online or by downloading a PDF file.

“Preservation and access have always been the guiding principles of archives," says Richard Lindemann, director of the George J. Mitchell Department of Special Collections & Archives. "Digitization furthers both of those imperatives by reducing wear and tear on the originals and extending the public’s reach for scarce research materials. Partnering with LYRASIS is allowing us to digitize scholarly resources at high volume and reduced costs, something that otherwise would be far more challenging to achieve.”

Recently digitized works include:

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General Catalogue of Bowdoin College and the Medical School of Maine: A Biographical Record of Alumni and Officers, 1794-1950 (1950). An essential biographical directory of Bowdoin’s students, faculty, and administrative officers, this authoritative compilation is an essential resource for historians and genealogists alike.

The History of Bowdoin College (1927), by Louis Clinton Hatch, is the most detailed history of the College for the period from the College’s founding in 1794 until 1927. It is especially useful in documenting College traditions and curricular developments, and tangentially in recording social life in Brunswick.

The History of Bowdoin College: With Biographical Sketches of Its Graduates from 1806 to 1879, Inclusive (1882), by Nehemiah Cleaveland and Alpheus S. Packard, provides encyclopedic biographical sketches of Bowdoin presidents and graduates for most of the nineteenth century, along with engraved portraits for many of them.

The Architecture of Bowdoin College (1988), by Patricia McGraw Anderson, is the best single resource for the architectural history of Bowdoin’s campus buildings, gates, and memorials.

Religion at Bowdoin College: A History (1981), by Ernst Christian Helmreich, considers how people at Bowdoin have perceived religion, how they have felt religion should or should not be realized at the College, and how those views changed over the years. Named Professorships at Bowdoin College (1976) is a study of the named professorial chairs and other endowed funds designated directly for faculty support.

Early years (1871-1921) of the Bowdoin Orient student newspaper have been available online through the Internet Archive for several years, and remaining back issues will soon also be available electronically. Near-future plans include digitizing the complete series of the Bowdoin College Catalogue, published regularly since 1807 and a vital resource for researching the curricular history of the College and biographies of Bowdoin students and faculty.

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