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Records containing information regarding the lives of Shaker community members born as early as the late 1600s to the last community members from 1965 have been put online, the result of a joint effort made by both the Shaker Heritage Society and Shakerpedia.com. The data is the work of Elizabeth “Betty” Shaver, who served as a board member and volunteer at the Shaker Heritage Society for over 30 years.
Shaver’s work had been kept in loose-leaf binders until now, according to SHS Director Starlyn D’Angelo. Those binders are well-worn at this point, due to constant use by other researchs and SHS volunteers.
The digitization of the records now makes them more easily accessible to SHS staff for research and, to use to answer visitor questions, according to a press release. The records have been scanned, digitized, and indexed.
“This is further enhanced by the Society headquarters now having a fiber Internet connection. In addition, the indexing of the entries and another few hundred supplemental family documents, as well as ties to Shakerpedia’s larger Shaker biographic records, opens up these records to the worldwide Shaker research community,” read the release.
“This is a very exciting opportunity for those who wish to research the people who called the Watervliet community their home as well as for those doing genealogical research,” Samantha Hall-Saladino, education director at SHS said in a statement. “The digitized records are also an excellent resource for educators to use in their classrooms.”
“What we did was take the great work that Betty left, and applied modern text and search processing techniques. Scanning to digital documents, creating and indexing the resulting text opens up the static and fraying paper to a whole new audience of readers and researchers. We are glad to be able to expand the audience for this fascinating view of the past via the extensive journals kept by the Shaker sisters and brothers,” said Rich Roth, one of the founders of the Shakerpedia website.
Records and other information on the Shakers can be found at www.shakerpedia.com.