Yesterday’s post, Transfiguration Church Through The Years, with 282 views in 24 hours was a pretty popular one. Nothing in that post would have been possible without coming across a physical copy of the Diamond Jubilee publication. It got me thinking, how would I have been able to write such a detailed post about the church’s history without it?
I had stumbled across this amazingly well written resource purely by accident. In addition to church history it has a great section about the history of the Monongahela. It would be one of the first publications that I would recommend to somebody interested in local history.
However for the general public the Diamond Jubilee Publication is a well hidden gem. You may be able to find a copy of it at the Mononongahela Area Historical Society but then again, they may not have a copy. The archives at St. Damian’s would have a copy but is it available to the public? Or maybe there is a copy down in the archives section of the Monongahela library? Or maybe the Charleroi historical society has a copy? (I’m sure a few people from Charleroi attended Transfiguration at one time or another) So, if the average person is attempting to do research about the Transfiguration church building he would have hours of searching ahead of him just trying to locate materials at various local archives and libraries. And on top of that, the local archives certainly aren’t going to let you take these valuable (sometimes irreplaceable) materials home where you can read at your leisure. Basically, you would have to do research the way I did in high school back in 1978 – visiting libraries and archives using 3×5 note cards (with lines!) for note taking. But most importantly, I would never have searched for the Diamond Jubilee publication in the first place because there was no way for me to know that it even existed.
So, it got me thinking – why don’t we start making this stuff available online? Just imagine how much easier it would be for book authors or just a hobbyist like me who writes a history blog. And what better way is there to foster a love of local history among the general public than to have authors and even bloggers posting fresh content for people to read.
(Ok, I’ve got to get to the point now because it is 7:36 a.m. and I have to leave for work so I’ll just use bullet points.)
- Let’s start encouraging our local institutions to upload what they have online so researchers can start using the material.
- Some institutions may not want certain materials freely available to the internet (diaries, copyrighted material or high resolution photographs). For those items let’s at least create an online index of what is available. Genealogists would go crazy over this stuff. Imagine how much traffic this would drive to our libraries and historical societies. And I’m not just talking about traffic from our local area but from Pittsburgh (Pittsburgh steel mills wouldn’t have existed if it wasn’t for coal mined in the Mon Valley so you could say we BUILT that city) and even other states.
- Imagine how much this would enhance news coverage of our area if writers could access historical information.
- Let’s start uploading stuff to the Internet Archive. Here is a list of resources relating to the Monongahela Area. Here is a direct link to the 1940 Transfiguration Jubilee publication found on the Internet Archive.
- What if your local library or historical society burns down – POOF, all that history goes up in smoke. (Remember that three buildings caught fire right next door to the Monongahela Area Historical Society just a few years ago.)
- Compare these two posts on Lost Monongahela regarding Transfiguration church. The first one from 2010 was written using only an old postcard and a brief mention about Transfiguration church in the Historical Magazine Of Monongahela’s Old Home Coming Week as source material. The second, the post I wrote yesterday is vastly better because in 2014 I now have access to old issues of Daily Republican at Newspapers.com and the Transfiguration Jubilee publication on the Internet Archive mentioned above.
Ok, I’m late for work – bye!