One of this country???s most precious historical research documents has been given ???a new lease on life??? thanks to the United States government.

The Shilstone notebooks, which are part of the Barbados Museum and Historical Society???s (BMHS) library, have benefitted from a donation of US $5, 000 which will go towards the digitisation of those documents and past issues of BMHS journals.

The funds were presented to Director of the Barbados Museum and Historical Society, Alissandra Cummins by Charg?? d???Affaires at the US Embassy, Dr. Brent Hardt.

The Shilstone Memorial Library, named after researcher and former museum librarian Eustace Maxwell Shilstone, is a reference and research library with a collection in excess of 6,000 volumes.?? There are 208 Shilstone documents, consisting of notebooks, folders, diaries and binders, all hand-written.??

The documents examine a variety of subjects including genealogical, Jewish Quaker and House of Assembly records, information on slavery in Barbados, church history, the clergy, Governors of Barbados, and in his diaries, Mr. Shilstone???s travels throughout the West Indies and the United States of America.

Ms. Cummins explained that such paper-based documents had become very fragile over time and therefore had to be withdrawn from public use and research.

The digitisation project, she pointed out, would offer scholars and researchers easier access to such documents which could now be placed online.

Digitisation is a tedious process, as each document has to be scanned and edited. One book of 199 pages takes approximately 12 hours to complete.

The process will be carried out using equipment from the Barbados National Committee of the International Council of Museums (ICOM). This equipment was acquired through a UNESCO grant.

Dr. Hardt said the funding was part of the U.S. government and the embassy???s commitment to preserving important cultural artifacts in the Caribbean and around the world.??

???This commitment reflects our respect as a nation for the richness of other cultures and our recognition that in preserving such cultural treasures in other countries, we enrich the life of people, now and in the future,??? the US official said.??

Author: Andr?? Skeete

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