Meet the Hubs! : Digital Commonwealth

Meet the Hubs! : Digital Commonwealth

Posted by Carly B. Boxer on January 10, 2013 in Blog, Featured.
This is the first in a series of posts highlighting the DPLA’s service hubs.

Over the next few weeks, I will be exploring the collections of the DPLA’s seven Digital Service Hubs — looking for hidden treasures and getting to know our Hubs a bit better. For the first of this series of posts, we’ll be starting right here in Massachusetts with the Digital Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

Digital Commonwealth is a state-wide repository service with 75 partner organizations throughout Massachusetts. Members contribute their holdings, for which Digital Commonwealth provides scanning and metadata consultation services; digitized materials and indexed metadata are hosted through Digital Commonwealth’s web portal. Currently, Digital Commonwealth’s repository includes over 1,500 books and serial volumes and over 25,000 individual items. Digital Commonwealth began in 2007, and signed  a letter of agreement creating a partnership with the Boston Public Library (BPL) in 2011. Under this agreement, Digital Commonwealth is largely responsible for outreach activities, while the BPL has taken the lead on the partnership’s technological infrastructure, which includes scanning facilities located at the BPL.

Bowling Pin Setters (Francesek “Frank” Jarosz b: 7 Oct 1899, MA Joseph Philippe b: 9 Jan 1899, Lowell, MA William Francis Payton b: 11 Feb 1900, Lowell, MA d: 24 Aug 1970, Lowell, MA) by Lewis Hine


Among Digital Commonwealth’s current highlights on its homepage is an early twentieth-century photograph of textile workers by Lewis Hines, the official photographer of the National Child Labor Commission from 1908-1918. Digital Commonwealth provides a link to collection of Hines’s photos at the Center for Lowell History at the University of Massachusetts Lowell . One of my favorite images in the collection is an image of three very young bowling pin setters smiling outside of the bowling alley where they work (above).

Also on Digital Commonwealth’s homepage is a link to NOBLE Digital Heritage, the digital library of the North of Boston Library Exchange, Inc.. NOBLE consists of ten libraries, including the Oliver Wendell Holmes Library at Phillips Academy, Andover. Through the NOBLE portal, I found a 1930 hand-drawn map of Phillips Academy’s Cochran Bird Sanctuary (below). I’m especially fond of the fluttering scrolls drawn on to the map, which bear the names of buildings around the school’s campus.


Cochran Bird Sanctuary Map by Richmond Knapp Fletcher, 1930

Digital Commonwealth contains an extensive collections tree listing the contents of a number of rich collections, from the exhibitions files of the Clark Art Institute Library to the oral history projects of the Jewish Women’s Archive. In searching through the contents of the WGBH Open Vault, I found a 30+ minute long video and transcript of a 1982 interview with John Kerry about his experience in the Vietnam war.

Of the items I found browsing Digital Commonwealth, I think my favorite is a 1932 typed copy of the original rules of volleyball. According to the Springfield College Digital Collections, the organization that holds the copy, volleyball was invented by William Morgan, Springfield class of 1894 and physical director of the YMCA in Holyoke, MA, “as a less strenuous alternative to basketball for middle-aged business men.” Springfield’s copy also contains a handwritten note: “Please Keep, Last Copy.”


The Original Rules of Volleyball by William Morgan, 1932. Provided courtesy of Springfield College, Babson Library, Archives and Special Collections


Featured Image courtesy of Springfield College, Babson Library, Archives and Special Collections.

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