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April Anderson-Zorn


WWI touched the lives of everyone in every corner of the world, and that includes the students at Illinois State University in Normal, IL (known as ISNU at the time). During the late war period Angeline Vernon Milner, Illinois State University's first librarian, was assigned to be on the War Services Committee at the university. Her main task was to document students who went overseas to serve. To do so, Milner created and collected surveys, letters, newspaper clippings, etc. from students and families directly affected by the war. Arguably, Milner can be seen as ahead of her time. She knew that this data would be important in the future and took the time to try and preserve the documents. Digital humanities are important because paper does not last forever. At some point, documents will disintegrate, and digitization can be a great resource to create digital copies of documents. Furthermore, once digitized items can be put onto online databases that can be accessed from remote locations. This opens the door for other researchers and students to use the document even if they do not live close enough to go see it in person. Another advantage is that it prolongs the physical documents life because it does not have to be handled as much. My research has been to create original metadata for these physical documents. This includes transcribing handwritten materials and researching sources to identify subject terms and related resources. The surveys and letters have revealed interesting events and information experienced by the students and faculty members of ISNU. The digitization of these is important for current faculty and students to look back on to see how the university was impacted during the war. University history matters--since the centennial of the end of the war happened in November 2018, I think this symposium is the perfect time to showcase the documents to a wider audience. The university has had a history of staying connected with its war veterans since the civil war, and this is an example of that.

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