Digitally preserving 134+ years of history
Indianapolis, October 25, 2019 — Alpha Chi Omega Fraternity today debuted the first phase of a project to digitally preserve and share its vibrant history, one that spans more than a century and reflects broad trends in campus, women’s and national history.
Through a partnership with digital history pioneer HistoryIT, Alpha Chi Omega has a multi-phase plan to transform its photographs, documents, memorabilia, scrapbooks, jewelry and more into a fully searchable digital collection that will tell the story of the organization dating back to its founding in 1885. At the time of founding, Alpha Chi Omega was the only fraternal organization for women studying music.
The first phase of Alpha Chi Omega’s digital collection site is now available online for members, alumnae and the general public to enjoy by visiting alphachiomega.historyit.com. Learn about Alpha Chi Omega’s long history of altruism, from supporting orphans during WWI to its current efforts focused on domestic violence awareness. Or check out how chapters, houses, conventions and fashions have changed through the decades with the Then and Now feature.
“Capturing our history and making it available to all members is a priority of the Fraternity,” said Katie Lampinen Gaffin, chief executive officer of Alpha Chi Omega. “We are now able to offer all members the opportunity to form a deeper connection through untold stories, and maybe find a story of their own.”
Alpha Chi Omega is among the first Greek-letter organizations to work toward preserving its extensive archives in its entirety for future generations while also using archival resources in innovative ways to support work with members and alumnae. As more historical materials are added to the digital collection site, visitors to the digital archives will be able to explore additional entries in the interactive timeline, digital exhibits, expanded Then and Now comparisons, education modules, profiles of prominent Alpha Chis and other interactive experiences.
“The prospect of digitally preserving more than 200 linear feet of archival holdings is a daunting one for any organization,” said Kristen Gwinn-Becker, PhD, HistoryIT’s chief executive officer. “Yet, if we do not undertake this effort, this history could be lost forever. It’s a great pleasure to work with partners like Alpha Chi Omega who recognize the urgency and the value of preserving and sharing their heritage.”
Through a strategic plan to transform physical archives into a digital collection, every item will be tagged with subjects, names, events and more. Alpha Chi Omega’s online digital collection was developed to showcase the rich history of this organization that has supported the development of more than 275,000 real, strong women for nearly 135 years. In addition to presenting archives in an accessible way, HistoryIT provides its clients with high-resolution archival images, which are stored on secure servers to ensure that historical collections are protected in the event that physical assets are destroyed due to aging, fire or some other disaster.
“Our hope, through this website, is to give members the freedom and ability to make Alpha Chi Omega’s history come to life through an easy and fun connection,” said Gaffin. “Discover something new every day!”
About Alpha Chi Omega:
Founded more than 130 years ago on the campus of DePauw University, Alpha Chi Omega has been a leader in redefining what it means to be a sorority. Through strength in sisterhood and a commitment to the values we share, generations of real, strong Alpha Chi Omega women have become leaders who effect change on our campuses, in our communities and around the world. Visit alphachiomega.org to learn more.
Digital history leader HistoryIT provides services, software and hardware solutions that help organizations transform their archival materials into 21st-century digital collections. Archives previously locked away become engaging online portals that can be easily explored by scholars and the general public alike. Clients are entities that have prioritized gaining and sharing better access to their heritage, and include numerous Greek-letter organizations, several Junior Leagues, the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, the Historical Society of Washington, D.C., the Great American Songbook Foundation, and the Osher Map Library and Smith Center for Cartographic Studies.