ISSUE 18, July 2006
Editorial
Archbishop Fisher: A Godly man and a Brother
Travel: The train takes the strain
Quarterly Communication: Annual Investiture speech by the Grand Master and Speech of the Pro Grand Master and Report of the Board of General Purposes
Supreme Grand Chapter: Speech by the First Grand Principal and Report of the Committee of General Purposes Grand Lodge of New York: Speech by the Pro Grand Master
   Specialist Lodges: Keeping their eyes on the ball
Education: Planning ahead for the Chair and Events and New premises for Masonic research
Royal Opera House: A right Royal occasion
Royal opening: Beamish Museum
Digital records: Saving our past for the future
Library & Museum: The hall in the garden
Queen's Birthday: Masons played a prominent part
International: A Mason and the Foreign Legion
Masonic Charities: Grand Charity and NMSF and RMBI and RMTGB
Letters, Book reviews, Gardening

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Retaining old prints is an important part of digitising Lodge records
   The safe custody of Lodge records has been a dilemma faced by many Lodge secretaries over the years, and it becomes ever more problematic for those Lodges with a long history of continuous meetings. Some of the problems, although very basic, are extremely difficult to overcome, as in the case of Cotehele Lodge No. 2166 in the Province of Cornwall.
    The basic problem was that our storage area was unsuitable for storing paper. The books generally were suffering from the effects of the damp and poor storage.
    Unfortunately, over the years, three of the Minute Books and a number of Attendance Registers were misplaced and are lost forever. The Lodge does not have much space for storage and did not have the funds to acquire a secure, damp-proof storage cabinet.
    Since 2000 I have been involved in the digital archiving of paper records (books, manuscripts etc) and I have undertaken work for the National Library of Scotland, Essex Record Office, Longleat Library and numerous other libraries and Museums.
    I am also a member of Cotehele Lodge. Lodge secretary Charlie Dore was concerned about the poor condition of the Lodge Records and asked my advice on their preservation. I suggested that we take the bull by the horns and digitally capture all the registers and books that we had available and this suggestion was accepted.
    The archive consists of 17 books. Initially they had to be aired and a number of the books were gently cleaned prior to work commencing. Digital capture took 25 working days, 3,743 images were captured, and some 62.5 Gigabyte of image data was saved to 19 DVDs for archival purposes.
    Having digitised the material we were then able to look at the next stage of protection for the Lodge records. As a temporary measure the books have been vacuum packed, which will protect them for the immediate future. It is hoped that the original documents will be put into the safe keeping of the County Records Office, although this will have to be done through the Province.
    Digital imaging allowed us the opportunity to make the records available to Lodge members on DVD, created using Jpeg images and “Archangel” retrieval software. Included is a spreadsheet providing an index of the records.
    A panorama of our temple has also been included to round off the DVD.
    We believe that Cotehele is the first Lodge in the UK (maybe the world) to have had all its records digitised. Cotehele Lodge has sent a copy of the Archive on DVD to Provincial Grand Lodge, the United Grand Lodge Museum and Library, with an additional copy being supplied to Masonic Research Department at Sheffield University. Bedford Lodge No. 252, Province of Devonshire, have contracted to have their Minute Books digitised and this work is in progress.
    Digitisation of records is exciting and it is a wonderful opportunity to make records easily accessible, but it is essential that professionals undertake the work and that best practice is followed using appropriate digital storage mediums.
    It is equally important that the Provincial officers, the UGLE Museum Archivist and the local archives, where appropriate, are kept informed of what is being done.
    It should be noted that the digital record must then be preserved. This is less onerous than with paper records, but it is equally important if we are to ensure the longevity of the storage medium, which involves the storage, review and if necessary, rewriting discs. If we do it right, then we can claim to be saving our past for the future!
    Ross Heriot, Imagelife, 08450560244 (Mobile: 07971062110), www.imagelife.co.uk


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