What do a 1,275-foot painting, a 1958 photograph of Carrie Fisher joining a Brownie troop, and an illuminated manuscript by a famed medieval surgeon all have in common? As of this year, all are newly and freely accessible online (provided that continues to mean anything)—via the New Bedford Whaling Museum, Los Angeles Public Library, and New York Academy of Medicine, respectively.
These efforts are just a drop in the digital ocean: In 2017 alone, the National Archives added 17.1 million digital files (texts, images, sound recordings, and films) to its online catalog. When Atlas Obscura asked Miriam Kleinman, their Program Director for Public Affairs, for a highlight from the year, the digitization team was spoiled for choice. “Having to pick one,” they reported, “is like picking your favorite child.”
From these archives and others, Atlas Obscura has a selection of items that made their digital debuts this year.
Christina Rice, Senior Librarian at the Los Angeles Public Library Photo Collection, shared images from the Valley Times newspaper archive. “For 2017, we’re on pace to digitize around 5,800 photos, all from our Valley Times Collection, a newspaper photo archive covering the San Fernando Valley from 1946 to 1965,” she says.