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State Archives Supersizes Its Digitization Capabilities

The Silver Crescent Standard
Wed, 07/18/2018

Blog Post by Evan Spencer

At the South Carolina Department of Archives and History, we are always in the process of digitizing our records for the Electronic Records Archive and the Online Records Index. Digitizing records not only makes them more easily accessible to a wider audience, it also helps us to preserve originals by reducing the need to handle them on a regular basis.

Until very recently, we have been limited to digitize documents that fit on our EPSON 10000XL, or 12.2” by 17.2” flatbed scanner. Fortunately, most of our documents fit within that range; however, we have several series that include oversized materials and require a much larger scanner to digitize.

For example, one of our heavily-used series is the Petitions to the General Assembly. The series consists of petitions from the citizens of South Carolina attempting to persuade the Legislature to use its authority to address a particular issue. This series is indispensable to both historical and genealogical researchers, as it details much about everyday life, concerns, and issues of South Carolinians and documents the way that the General Assembly operated.

Such an important set of records made this one of SCDAH’s earliest priorities for digitization, as we wanted to make these records as widely accessible as possible. Most of the petitions are what we consider to be a standard size, therefore, we scanned those years ago and added them in our Online Records Index. However, some of the petitions in this series are a much larger size that we could not scan…until now!


Last month, SCDAH installed our brand new oversized scanner, the Versascan 3650!


Versacan 3650 Large Format Scanner

This scanner can digitize documents and artifacts up to 36” by 50”. In other words, it can handle documents that are over eight times larger than our previous scanner. It also has Visual 3D technology, which allows us to demonstrate the three dimensional nature of some of our records. For example, here is part of a scan of the Articles of Agreement between the Lord’s Proprietors (1674).


Articles of Agreement between the Lord's Proprietors


Note how the seals have an incredible amount of detail. The imprint of Lord Albemarle’s ring is actually more visible here than it is to the naked eye!

After we tested the 3D capabilities, we jumped right into finishing off some of our oversized scanning projects.  In fact, we have recently completed the oversized Governor’s Messages (S165009) and we are currently working
on the Petitions to the General Assembly.  This petition deals with the navigation of the Wateree and Catawba Rivers.

Petition to the General Assembly of the State of South Carolina
S165015.  General Assembly.  Petitions #1413, No Date. 
South Carolina Department of Archives and History

With this new large format scanner, we will continue to digitize the records of our state and make them available through the Online Records Index and the Electronic Records Archive.