The modern world as well as the future needs historical accounts in order to be aware of how events have changed with time. There are a number of ways of learning about the past. However, archives provide very important resources that give an account of the past. It is therefore crucial for communities to be informed about the importance of valuing and keeping their archives containing precious historical documents.
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The archives will protect useful documents, diaries, catalogues, reference books, photographs, music, films, minutes, letters, land records, newspapers, censuses and correspondence which will be invaluable for future generations. The essay discuses the power and potential of the Valley Archive collections, a project which happens to be part of the Virginia Center for Digital History at the University of Virginia.
The modern world has witnessed tremendous information, communication and technological advancements. Virtually all sectors in the society have made efforts to integrate these significant developments. Historians have not been left behind as far as keeping important records that gives an account of the past is concerned. The Valley of the Shadow is a digital archive of very crucial sources of information about the people of Augusta County, Virginia, and Franklin County, Pennsylvania, during the period of the American Civil War between 1859 and 1870.
Most archives contain very limited documentation of the past which makes them look like digital books. However, the Valley of the Shadow archive is more like a large digital library that provides an account of thousands of original documents that paints a clear picture of how men and women of Augusta and Franklin counties lived during the Civil War in America.
Despite its huge size, the Valley Archive Project is well structured and easy to use. It contains thousands of census and government records which include maps and images, land and church records, official statistics, and tax records, letters and diaries, newspapers and speeches, and they all provide very detailed information about the day to day activities of people in the two counties during the time of the war.
The three major sections into which the archive is divided make it easier to browse and access preferred information. The Eve of the War (1859-1861), The War Years (spring 1861-spring 1865), and The Aftermath (1865-1870) are the three sections of the Valley Archive.
The click of a mouse on each section of interest enables one to take a tour into this virtual library. As one goes deeper into the library, one gets access to original documentation of most sectors of the society in the two counties at the time of the Civil War. Archives, therefore, are invaluable sources of historical accounts of any given society.
With the nature of the Valley Archive Project, it is evident that historical accounts can be integrated with scientific and technological advancements that make it easier for historians to access various accounts of the past. This ease of accessing historical information helps researchers in conducting investigations through the analysis of original documentations in their digital form. We can conclude, therefore, that without archives, there is no history.
University of Virginia (2009). The Valley of the Shadow. Retrieved from http://valley.lib.virginia.edu/VoS/choosepart.html