The Alfred Whital Stern Collection of Lincolniana

Building the Digital Collection

Conservation Treatment

All items in the Stern Collection of Lincolniana were reviewed as to their condition prior to digitization. Materials received stabilization or other treatment as necessary including dry cleaning, humidification and flattening, or mending with Japanese paper and reversible paste prior to scanning. Several of the assassination newspapers also received acqueous treatment and deacidification. After digitization, many of the items were removed from acidic folders or backing boards and were replaced with archival quality folders and storage boxes.

Digital Images

Digital images were created on site by the Library of Congress’ Digital Scan Lab. The majority of items were scanned using the Phase One Power FX with the exception of a small number scanned of items digitized with the Phase One P45+. All monographs were captured using a Digi-book camera. Three-dimensional items were captured via a Hassalblad H1 camera with a Phase One P45+ digital camera back.

The images were digitized in accordance with Rare Book and Special Collection Division standards that include the following:

  • color at 300 DPI (dots per inch)
  • capture full item and ¼ inch of blank space around the item. Inclusion of any binding material, i.e., book cover appearing around the perimeter of the item. If scanning a page in a book, capture the page, any visible binding behind the page, and ¼ inch of the space around the page on three sides and ¼ inch of the gutter and next page
  • scan all pages, including blank pages unless otherwise specified. Capture the spine as well as the front and back cover of the item.

Note: The song sheets in this collection were digitized at an earlier date under different specifications. Covers were captured as grayscale or color images with either a UMAX Mirage IIse flatbed scanner or a 4-by-5-inch camera with a Phase One digital back. Interior pages were captured as bi-tonal digital images using a Bookeye overhead capture device. The decision to capture the interior pages as bi-tonal images resulted from a usability survey that compared the quality of printouts. The survey determined that printing from bi-tonal images resulted in clearer copies than printing from grayscale. Because the music in the collection is meant for performance, the clarity of printed copies was a significant factor in determining the format of collection image files.

The TIFs for the entire collection are stored in a master directory on the Library's RS5 servers and all derivative images including JPEGs and GIFs are stored on a service directory for fast user retrieval. All derivatives were created from TIFs with the use of Alchemy scripts. Thumbnail GIFs were sized at 150 pixels (width) and page-turner GIFs at 600 pixels (width). Full-sized JPEGs were created with true color output at 24 bits per pixel.


Printed text, such as newspapers, monographs, and broadsides with print underwent OCR (Optical Character Recognition) by use of LuraDoc PDF Compressor running the ABBYY 8.0. Results were mixed with a higher error rate for items with fonts not easily recognizable to the software and/or the physical condition of the item. Manuscripts, including letters and other handwritten documents, were fully transcribed and encoded in SGML format. While total accuracy has not been achieved, these transcriptions serve as a starting point for the completion of a scholarly translation in the future and as an aid in search and find functions for the collection as a whole.


The database was first populated with the entries in the printed work entitled A Catalog of the Alfred Withal Stern Collection of Lincolniana in the Library of Congress. Titles, authors, dates, cataloging numbers, and notes all were transcribed directly from the catalog into the database. Some Lincolniana was not recorded in the catalog, in which case, the use of brackets ‘[…]’ are employed to denote an unofficial title. Brackets also are used to offer additional identifying information such as [newspaper], [letter], [campaign ticket], and so on.
All handwritten notes on the portfolio folders of digitized items were noted including titles, portfolio numbering information, and any other useful notes or dates. In addition, notes from the card catalog also were recorded in the notes field of the database.

*A note about newspapers. OCR is intended to provide in depth search capability. However, the subject browse also can be used for article headlines and other broad topics that are noted in the subject field.