The Sherman Indian Museum’s rich collection documents the student experience, institutional culture, and community history of one of the oldest off-reservation American Indian boarding schools in the United States still in operation. Efforts to better understand the complex and layered history of these schools are regularly confronted with limited and scattered histories where significant gaps in the narrative exist. This paper details the cross-institutional collaboration to process and digitize the museum’s collection for increased accessibility, focusing on the partnership formed between an Indigenous and non-Indigenous institution and the steps taken to create one of the premier online digital collections documenting the boarding school experience.
Increasing Access to American Indian Off-Reservation Boarding School Archives: Sherman Indian Museum Digital Project
Eric L. Milenkiewicz has worked in varying capacities at academic libraries, with a concentration in the areas of special collections and archives. In addition to his archival management expertise, he has extensive experience with digital library projects and digital collection building with cultural heritage materials. A trained archivist, receiving his graduate degree from San José State University, Milenkiewicz works as the University Archivist at California State University, San Bernardino. Prior to this position, he served as the Assistant Archivist and Digital Initiatives Program Manager at the University of California, Riverside Library. Milenkiewicz was the Co-Principal Investigator and Project Director for the “The Sherman Indian Museum Digital Collection: Increasing Access to American Indian Off-Reservation Boarding School Archives” grant funded project. This cross-institutional collaborative project resulted in nearly 14,000 items totaling over 55,000 pages of content from the museum’s collection being digitized and made publicly available online for increased accessibility to both the Indigenous and scholarly communities.
Eric L. Milenkiewicz; Increasing Access to American Indian Off-Reservation Boarding School Archives: Sherman Indian Museum Digital Project. The Public Historian 1 November 2023; 45 (4): 26–46. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/tph.2023.45.4.26
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