If You Build It, They Will Come

For several years we have discussed the possibility of an Innovation Hub as a place dedicated to incubating, accelerating, and promoting innovative projects that staff could work on with the public. We envisioned students working with our volunteers to learn about handwritten documents and to try transcribing them for our catalog. We talked about holding scanathons and hackathons with local chapters of coders and hosting Wikipedian meetings throughout the year.

Our Innovation Hub Coordinator, Dina Herbert, on opening day.

Our Innovation Hub Coordinator, Dina Herbert, on opening day.

The Innovation Hub is open.  Located on the first floor of the National Archives building in Washington, D.C., the Hub has two sections: a meeting area, and a citizen scanning room where researchers can scan our records with state-of-the-art equipment at no cost as long as they also contribute a copy of their digital scans for our online catalog.

Staff preparing for first group in the Hub.

Staff preparing for first group in the Hub.

The Hub is already buzzing with activity. Our first week, we hosted the Primarily Teaching group of educators, who scanned almost 100 records, equaling 432 pages, on Chinese immigration to be included in our online DocsTeach system, the online tool for teaching with documents from the National Archives, and our Catalog. We have planned transcription parties as well as hosting Wikipedian meetings as well.

Here is our very first scan coming from the Hub: https://catalog.archives.gov/id/20014029 (the Civil War Compiled Military Service Record of William E. Strong, which even has his picture at the end).

Perhaps you would like to transcribe it? It’s easy to log in and start transcribing.


Original record: “Victory Waits On Your Fingers – Keep ‘Em Flying Miss U.S.A.” National Archives Identifier 515979


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5 Responses to If You Build It, They Will Come

  1. Two years ago I sat in at a meeting with the NARA social media staff and the MIT Media Lab, and imagined an innovation lab in my mind. It’s great that you have finally put this dream together!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Military Records says:

    The text should be corrected. The file is a compiled military service record from RG 94 (not a pension file).

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Leeana Allen says:

    This sounds fantastically fun!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Z says:

    The correct quote from the movie “Field of Dreams” is:

    “If you build it, he will come.”


  5. Sharon Goetz says:

    It is a bit disappointing to see the “Explore. Dream. Discover” quotation attributed to Mark Twain in archives.org content. Please see the yellow box (scroll down) at Barbara Schmidt’s excellent quotation site: http://twainquotes.com/Discovery.html

    Liked by 1 person

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