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P.I. County Historical Museum makes Calcite magazine digitally accessible

May 16, 2011
The Alpena News

"Calcite Screenings," the corporate magazine published by Rogers City's Michigan Limestone and Chemical Co. from 1926 until 1963, has moved into the digital age.

All 38 years of the magazine, totaling 4,316 pages, are now available on the Presque Isle County Historical Museum's website-www.thebradleyhouse.org. A DVD containing the "Screenings" files can also be purchased from the museum.

"This is going to be a tremendous resource for anyone who has had a family member who worked at Calcite or on the Bradley boats," said Mark Thompson, the museum's executive director and curator. "It will also be a valuable tool for anyone doing research on the Calcite Plant or the boats of the Bradley fleet."

Article Photos

Courtesy Photo
Bob Centala, left, Rich Warwick, and Bob Yerks look at an old issue of ‘Calcite Screenings,’ published by Michigan Limestone from 1926-63. It contained information about the company’s Calcite quarry and Rogers City and the Bradley Transportation fleet. Warwick, the Presque Isle County Historical Museum’s volunteer Webmaster, recently completed scanning and digitizing all issues of the magazine. Centala sailed for the company for many years, retiring as a chief engineer after 30 years on the lakes. Yerks worked just over 40 years at the Calcite Plant.

According to Thompson, he and Rich Warwick, the museum's volunteer Webmaster, began exploring the possibility of scanning and digitizing "Screenings" last fall. Warwick tried scanning them with the scanner the museum purchased several years ago to scan large format negatives from its Calcite photographic collection, but found that it was too slow.

The software the museum had to convert scans to text files also produced a lot of errors that had to be manually corrected.

"We reached the conclusion that with the scanner and software we had it would take several years to digitize 'Screenings,'" said Thompson. "We simply weren't ready to make that sort of commitment.

"Fortunately, we stumbled across a relatively inexpensive scanner that would scan about 20 pages a minute, doing both sides of the page simultaneously," Thompson added. "It also came with optical character recognition software that converted the scans to text files with minimal errors."

With the new equipment, Warwick was able to scan all 38 years of "Screenings" in just three weeks. It has taken several additional weeks to work out the technical problems involved with putting the scanned documents on the museum's website.

One major advantage of digitizing "Screenings" is that you can now easily search through the issues for a name or subject using a computer's "search" or "find" functions.

"In about half an hour, I was able to search all 4,316 pages of 'Screenings' to find every time that 'Thompson' appeared," said Thompson. "To do the same with the actual magazines would probably have taken me a couple of weeks. Even then, I'm sure that paging through the magazines I would have missed some of the mentions of my grandfather, my father, and my uncles."

 
 

 

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