Anytime a new computerized product or service is christened with a male name in all upper-case letters (even if it’s not an acronym), it inevitably evokes the specter of HAL, the homicidal spacecraft operating system in Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. It seems likely, however, that the newborn FRANKLIN will prove much more friendly and helpful.
The Internet’s answer to the fabulously revamped exhibit spaces recently opened to the public at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum in Hyde Park, FRANKLIN is described as a “virtual research room” that now provides free access to the Library’s digitized collections, with keyword search capability, from the comfort of your PC or laptop. Not all the voluminous material in the FDR archives has been digitized as yet, but the process will be ongoing. You can already access 350,000 pages of documents and photographs in “two of the major collections of FDR’s papers as president, along with selected Eleanor Roosevelt correspondence and several smaller batches of in-demand archival materials,” according to the Library’s announcement.
The FDR Presidential Library, the National Archives and Records Administration, Marist College, IBM and the Roosevelt Institute are the collaborators behind this massive public/private effort to make primary sources of information about the great events of the mid-20th century available to all who can access the Web, in the spirit of FDR’s own call for “the duplication of records by modern processes.” Check out the new digital repository yourself at www.fdrlibrary.marist.edu.