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Date: September 17, 2008
Contact: Anne Strong
Telephone: (301) 279-9697

A Milestone for Digital Archives: Profiles in Science Celebrates 10 Years

The National Library of Medicine’s Profiles in Science website marks its 10th anniversary as a truly innovative leader in digital archives research and development. Profiles promotes the use of modern technology for researching and teaching the history of biomedical science and other topics in health and medicine. The site features the personal papers of Nobel laureates and other leaders in science, medicine, and public health. The on-line materials and interpretive exhibit narratives shed light on the history of a wide range of medical topics, including genetics, pharmacology, AIDS, and biological warfare.

History Associates archivists have continuously staffed, developed, and refined Profiles from its earliest stages. This close collaboration, which began in 1997 when History Associates was asked to help develop a prototype system for digitizing the National Library of Medicine’s manuscript holdings, continues to the present day. Currently, two digital archivists create collection and item-level metadata; conduct scanning and quality control; and identify digitized materials meeting the criteria for public release. A processing archivist prepares collections for digitization by creating on-line Encoded Archival Description (EAD) finding aids and noting key items for possible inclusion on Profiles. A historian has also selected items for digitization and provided context for the materials by writing comprehensive exhibit narratives. Moreover, History Associates staff have brought their skills to other Profiles-related tasks, such as developing an internal project archives; editing and updating the project’s procedures manual; undertaking large-scale transcription of documents; providing talks on digitization topics; conducting oral histories; and assisting in the planning and organization of two history of medicine symposia.

To date, thirty on-line exhibits highlight collections from both the National Library of Medicine and repositories across the United States. Additionally, collaborative projects with institutions in England have allowed Profiles to exhibit the papers of Francis Crick and Rosalind Franklin, two crucial players in the story of DNA. Digitized materials on the site include correspondence, diaries, articles, laboratory notes, photographs, pamphlets, posters, and video clips.

About History Associates
For more than thirty years the historians and archivists at History Associates have demonstrated that history is valuable in the market as well as the marketplace of ideas. They provide professional corporate histories, exhibit content, interpretive planning, historical research, archival services, and collections management services to clients throughout the United States and around the world. History Associates strives to be The Best Company in History®, serving corporate, government, legal, and nonprofit clients from its headquarters in Rockville, Maryland. For more information, call (301) 279-9697 or visit

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