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Allen Park Veterans Administration Hospital Archives

Project Information

The Allen Park Veterans Administration Hospital Archives consists of about 150 digital reproductions from the collection currently maintained in Medical Media at the John D Dingell VA Medical Center on John R St. in Detroit MI. This collection includes photographs, newspaper articles, documents, and audio and video segments of interviews with selected staff and members of the community. The time frame spans the decades from the 1930's to 2000's. Created in 2006, the adaptation of this collection to the digital environment was a collaborative project between the Information & Media Section of the John D Dingell VAMC staff and the Detroit Area Library Network (DALNET).

Funding and Staffing

A part time temporary position of Archivist was created to help deal with collecting and organizing the images and documents and to assist with interviews. Equipment used for scanning and file creation was already owned by the medical center and housed in the medical media unit. Work on the project began in November 2005.

VA staff

Karen Tubolino, Chief Information and Media Section, along with Donald McCatty, Archivist, identified the material for this project and, with the assistance of Mary Jo Durivage, Medical Librarian, provided the metadata description for all records. Bill Browning, Audiovisual Specialist, provided invaluable technical oversight on the project as well as the creation of the video interviews and the design of the website. Additional assistance was obtained from student volunteers who scanned most of the images. Karen Tubolino provided project oversight.

Detroit Area Library Network (DALNET)

The creation of the digital collection drew on the expertise of members of the DALNET staff. Steven Bowers worked with the web presentation and development of the project web site. George Marck configured the DALNET web server and digital library software. Susan Pratt converted digital files to uniform formats.

Selection of Materials

The archive collection first had to be collected and organized since it was spread out in many offices and areas of the medical center. Items were selected for digitization because of its historical significance and its potential interest to the general public. Most of the material focuses on the Allen Park facility since it has been demolished and was on the National Register of Historic Buildings. Part of the demolition agreement included a section on preserving the archives of the Allen Park Hospital for future generations. There are also some materials that relate to the decision to rebuild the facility in the city of Detroit and the issues, problems, and opportunities that presented.

Image Creation

All photographs and documents were scanned at 300 ppi, 24-bit RGB color, on an AGFA Ducoscan HiD flatbed scanner. The scanned files were imported into Adobe Photoshop 7.0 as uncompressed .jpg files which should be easy to load for most computers. All images files were inspected for orientation, skew, moire pattern and file size. Adjustments were made to improve the visual images, copied onto portable hard drive, and transported to the DALNET offices for loading on the server. Some images may take longer than others to load due to the size of the image and also the speed of the connection. Every attempt was made to make the files as clear as possible without distorting the image but in some cases when the original was an older photograph or a decaying newspaper clipping it was not always possible to get as clear an image as we would have liked. Some of the text will be easier to read if you go to VIEW and the scroll down to Full Screen, or just hit the F11 key.

Audio and Video Files

There are some audio files on the website. They are listed under the title: "Interview with . . . " These are all .wma files which are listened to on Microsoft's Windows Media Player. Most of them are 30 minutes but none are longer than an hour in length. They do take a couple minutes to download.

Later there will also be some video files that can be played back on Windows Media Player. The feature video will be "From Soldier to Citizen: the History of the Detroit VA Medical Center." This is a feature length program of twenty-eight minutes that will be broken into 14, 2-minute clips.

Digital Library Software

DALNET chose Greenstone Digital Library Software, an open source software solution developed by the Computer Science Department of the University of Waikato (New Zealand) to serve our digital content because of its extensibility, active development and support community, and open source value and access to code.

Description and Subject Indexing

Library of Congress subject headings were used for major descriptors. Corporate and Personal names were checked for consistency but no attempt was made to check these against the OCLC Authority Files.

For further information, contact: Karen.Tubolino@va.gov

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