Archives converted - Indian Head Museum has undertaken projects to digitize its archives, including converting its newspaper collection to searchable files through a partnership with the Provincial Archives of Saskatchewan.

The Indian Head Museum is home to a wealth of artifacts (three-dimensional items) and archives (two-dimensional documents) chronicling the history of Indian Head and surrounding district. To make the archives more accessible to community members and researchers, and to ensure the preservation of many unique documents, the museum has been working to digitize its photos, newspaper collection and other memorabilia.
Many photos have been displayed on the museum walls; however, the museum board recognizes that photos can deteriorate from exposure to natural elements such as sunlight. To guard against this, students who worked at the museum last summer were tasked with removing all the framed photos from the walls. The pictures were catalogued and scanned to create digital files, which were used to print replicas. The original photos could then be safely stored and the replicas displayed at the museum. In addition to preserving the original photos, another benefit to the project is that replica photos in a particular collection can all be printed in a uniform size. For example, some of the original photos of past Indian Head mayors are small and others photos are large. These will all be reprinted the same size and displayed together in the museum stairway.
Along with many photos, the museum also has a collection of newspapers from Indian Head, Wolseley, Sintaluta, and Qu’Appelle. Some of these date back to 1884 and newspapers naturally become brittle with age. In order to preserve the history contained in their newspaper collection, the museum initiated a digitization project last fall. They sought financial support from the community and within one month had raised the necessary $3,600. The funding enabled the museum to partner with the Provincial Archives of Saskatchewan to scan microfilms of the newspapers. The high quality image scans were converted to PDF, a searchable file format. The project was completed last month and eventually the Provincial Archives will add these files to their online resource. In the meantime, the data is accessible on a computer at the Indian Head Museum.
In addition to photos and newspapers, the Indian Head Museum has a collection of other paper documents. These include items such as personal memoirs, books written by individuals with a local connection, and records from the Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Administration (PFRA, also known as the Tree Farm). More than 1,100 of these documents have been entered into MemorySask.ca, an online database of materials at archives across the province. The searchable database provides a description of each item, along with a catalogue and location number. Individuals can then contact the museum and someone will use those numbers to locate the physical item of interest stored on a shelf at the museum. In case the word used for a search is not part of the item’s title, it should be noted that individuals searching the database will need to deactivate the parameter “Only top-level descriptions” after entering their search query in order for results to display properly.
Another digital resource is also available to people interested in the history of Indian Head. In 1984, an 800-page book was published called, Indian Head: History of Indian Head and District. Copies of this book are available at the museum and local library but the University of Calgary has also included the resource in its searchable, online files at digitalcollections.ucalgary.ca.
These projects have required a great deal of effort but John Kort, museum board member, told Grasslands News that it has already proved worthwhile as people use the digital resources to find information they seek.
“The whole idea is you can search it on the computer and we can find it quickly; it’s nice to have all three things accessible to researchers – the history book, the archives and the newspaper,” Kort affirmed. “With all the work we’ve done to organize the archives, the pay-off for me is that people start using them.”

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