Update: See the Local 4 News WHBF-TV story https://www.ourquadcities.com/news/to-keep-history-from-being-lost-augu…
The Augustana Historical Society has launched an initiative unprecedented in its 89-year history expected to benefit researchers and history buffs alike by making the Society’s books freely available through Augustana College’s online Digital Commons. The AHS Book Digitization Project has already made eight books both downloadable and searchable at digitalcommons.augustana.edu/ahs.
Lisa Huntsha, an archivist/librarian at Augustana’s Swenson Swedish Immigration Research Center who serves as the AHS secretary, says professional historians and researchers of all types are conducting more and more of their research online.
“By digitizing these works and making them freely available, we can increase access to their content and eliminate barriers to the material,” Huntsha says. “This, we hope, will engender new scholarship on these subjects, and increase interest in the history of the college and its related institutions.”
Kai Swanson, president of the AHS, says the Society exists to preserve the history of Augustana College and its relation to Swedish-American immigration and culture. “We’re bound together by our desire to preserve and tell Augustana’s stories, and we do this through publications, presentations, and preserving written records and artifacts,” Swanson says.
Since its founding in 1930, the AHS has traced the stories of Swedish-Americans who settled in the Midwest, built the Augustana Synod, and organized, taught, and studied at Augustana College and Theological Seminary in Rock Island.
Huntsha notes that through the Book Digitization Project, donors have stepped forward to “adopt” print publications, covering the cost of the digitization and supporting the ongoing work of the AHS. “We started with a list of 34 books, and all but nine have already been sponsored. So it’s not only helped make the material globally available, it’s actually sparked interest in and support for what the Society does,” Huntsha says.
Members of the Society receive a regular newsletter and annual print publications free as part of their $35 annual membership. Upcoming publications include a memoir of teaching science at Augustana by retired Professor Robert Frank, and a collection of Augustana Christmas traditions and memories.