By Robin Naughton, Senior Digital Program Manager
We are excited to launch a new digital collection, The Robert Matz Hospital Postcard Collection.
Dr. Robert Matz donated about 2,000 hospital postcards to The New York Academy of Medicine Library in several installments between 2015 and 2019. Dating from the late 19th century to the mid-20th century, the postcards were organized into three sub-collections: New York City (NYC), New York State (sans NYC), and United States (sans New York). To create metadata for the postcards, the Library started a project where volunteers researched and captured data about each postcard. New York City was the first sub-collection completed by the volunteers. It was the perfect sub-collection to use for an internal digitization pilot project.
A digitization pilot project is a great opportunity to showcase part of a much larger collection and to test innovative ideas. For the pilot, 118 postcards were selected from the NYC sub-collection of 962 hospital postcards. Hospital postcards were selected representing all five boroughs (Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens, and Staten Island) to highlight the variety of hospitals, building architecture, and cultural value of the postcards. The number of postcards selected for each borough is approximately 10 to 12 percent of the total number of postcards for that borough. For example, Manhattan has the largest number of postcards of the five boroughs and the largest number of postcards in the pilot. The pilot offers an opportunity for users, researchers, potential funders, and the public to explore what has already been digitized, and to learn more about the collection.
|Borough||# of Postcards in Pilot|
The process of digitizing the postcards provides an opportunity to test new and innovative ways of imaging the collection. For this collection, the opportunity to capture four postcards at once was an innovative approach to digitizing the collection.
The software used for internal digitization was Capture One, which offered many opportunities to enhance the imaging workflow. One such opportunity was to divide the capture area into quadrants so that one shot could capture four objects and ultimately create four images. Rather than taking eight shots for four postcards (front & back), the process reduced the work to only two shots for all four postcards. To do this, variants (duplicates of the raw images) were created in Capture One and the settings applied to each shot. This method improved the efficiency of digitizing the Matz postcards and provided a significant enhancement to the Digital Lab’s workflow for small, flat objects.
The Robert Matz Hospital Postcards Collection pilot project provides a glimpse into what is possible and available if the entire collection were digitized. Digitizing 2,000 postcards and creating metadata so that users can explore the collection in multiple ways will take time and resources, but the Library is excited about the opportunity.
Take some time to explore the collection and learn more about each of the hospitals represented in the pilot. If you’d like to explore additional postcards, reach out to the Library.