To keep history from being lost, Augustana Historical Society digitizing the printed word


Augustana College is turning the page on its history.

Instead of a paperback, they’re using a digital format to keep the records from being lost to the sands of time.

The Augustana Historical Society began scanning and uploading digital copies of their books online a few months ago.

It’s to expand the reach and longevity of the items that can share.

A vault of artifacts and memories collected by the Augustana Historical Society begins a trip back in time.

Augustana Historical Society President Kai Swanson said, “Doing mission work, health care, education in China.”

That includes volumes of the printed word.

Swanson said, “We’ve got shelves of old books folks don’t even know exist.”

That’s why Kai Swanson, the president of the Augustana Historial Society, wants to get this story out.

“If you put history up on a shelf, it’s probably going to die. Right? But if you make it readily available and vibrant, and not just readily available but easily accessible, then you give it a life that sustains generations into the future,” said Swanson.

Founded in the 1930s, the mission is preserving and documenting the history of Swedish-American immigration, culture and their ties to Augustana College.

Augustana’s Swenson Swedish Immigration Research Center archivist and librarian Lisa Huntsha said, “I think some people may be researching in these realms but aren’t aware of some of these materials.”

They’re now in the process to share some 80-plus years of their published works by scanning it to live online.

Huntsha said, “Make them freely available to researchers across the world.”

They’re starting with a list of 34 titles.
Augustana archivist and librarian Lisa Huntsha is one of the leads on the project, which goes one page at a time and has a cost.

Huntsha said, “Between about $40 to $200 depending on how many pages. If we need to cut the spine and do a little bit of extra work.”

Society members are adopting the texts to fund this digital evolution.

Huntsha said, “Enthusiasm from our members stepping forward to sponsor publications that maybe they have a personal connection to. They knew the author.”

With considerable help from the college’s students to upload the data, the files can be seen in the results of a dot com card catalog. 

Huntsha said, “They can find it with a keyword Google search now.”

That for this society means the story is not done.

Swanson said, “New histories, new biographies, new synthesis of existing historical material into all new resources.”

So far, nine books have been completed and placed on the Augustana Digitial Commons website. 

Member of the Augustana Historical Society told Local 4 News a primary audience for this material is in Sweden,

Researchers from the country visit the college to access the content.

There are still books that needed to be sponsored.

To reach Huntsha, or Swanson at 609-794-7419.

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