CarLibrary.org - Preserving Automotive History

May 17, 2020

Preserving Automotive History

The March 2019 issue of Hemmings Classic Car featured a profile of the Society of Automotive Historians (SAH) on its fiftieth anniversary. This article appeared in March 2020 on the digital version of Hemmings Classic Car: (https://www.hemmings.com/stories/article/the-society-of-automotive-historians

Commenting on this article, author and automotive historian Jim Volgarino (Cedar Falls, IA) expressed the hope that the SAH would address the technical issues involved in preserving automotive history. Bob Schmitt (Burbank CA) and Helen Hutchings (Topeka KS) later exchanged emails with Jim on this topic. All are SAH members. This is a summary of the issues discussed:

1.   Establish safe, online resources where information of all types is indexed and accessible for searching and access.

2.   Review, endorse or draft archival standards to preserve paper-based materials and auto history artifacts on other media.

3.   Identify or create an index of U.S. and worldwide digital archives, to include museums, public and private collections and libraries.

4.   Encourage digitization of all automotive resources at all levels - individuals to institutions.

     Review, endorse or draft standards for digital item categorization to include Nomenclature 4.0 (https://www.nomenclature.info/ this is a standard/controlled vocabulary). 

     Pat Ganahl's “Pickins": https://patganahl.com/2020/04/13/pickins/  is an example of an individual collection which could be digitized.

5.   Recognize personal histories, oral and video interviews as automotive history sources.

6.   Encourage coordination of digitization efforts at all levels to avoid duplication.

7.   Recognize sources of non-automotive archival expertise such as the Library of Congress, The Smithsonian Institution, the Getty Research and Conservation Institutes, HathiTrust and the British Museum.

8.   Provide a method of timely communication between automotive historians. This could a forum, with postings organized by topic, membership should be private/controlled. 

9.   Identify existing digital automotive archives, such as the AACA museum (http://www.aacalibrary.org/online-catalog/ and the REVS Institute.

10.  Encourage donations of automotive history materials to institutions which will manage and preserve books, photos, documents to archival standards. (see ClassicCars.com: https://journal.classiccars.com/2020/05/06/what-will-you-do-with-your-collection-when-your-time-has-come/

11.  Encourage SAH membership https://autohistory.org/  (Note: All SAH publications are available in digital format, online to members.  SAH also has a very comprehensive "Links" webpage: https://autohistory.org/links-to-online-automotive-history-resources

Email me with any comments, suggestions or questions!  Bob Schmitt, rgschmitt@gmail.com