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Innovative digital archive to features history of Madison County, launch event March 14

EDWARDSVILLE – Madison Historical: The Online Encyclopedia and Digital Archive for Madison County, Ill., will be introduced at a public event being held at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday, March 14, in the Southern Illinois University Edwardsville Morris University Center Conference Center.

madisonhistoricallogoThe innovative digital archive is transforming the historical experience, using 21st century technology to display 20th century history, and inviting the public to be content creators.

Madison County Regional Superintendent of Schools Robert Daiber is leading the project.

It is being developed and managed by SIUE College of Arts and Sciences’ Department of Historical Studies associate professors Jeffrey Manuel and Jason Stacy and Stephen Hansen, faculty emeritus and former interim chancellor, along with undergraduate and graduate students.

“I realized in reviewing the centennial document from “2012, Centennial History of Madison County, Ill., and Its People,” that no history had been formally recorded since 1912,” Daiber explained. “I recognize the great prosperity that occurred during the 20th century, and saw the need for that information to be put in a formal format for historical reference.”

“Madison Historical is an exciting and important project, and I commend Dr. Daiber for recognizing the need for a written history of Madison County,” Hansen said. “The project brings together members of our community, students and scholars in a collaboration to collect, preserve and write our own history. It makes history accessible for everyone, and because it will inform us about ourselves, who we were and who we are, it is a history of ‘Everyman,’ the people of Madison County.”

“This project is a perfect illustration of SIUE’s close connection with southwestern Illinois, and our longstanding commitment to partnering with community institutions and improving the region,” added Manuel. “It offers a way to bring together over a dozen museums and archives in Madison County. These institutions do a fantastic job of collecting, preserving and interpreting local history. We’re partnering with them to scan historical materials and make them available online.”

According to Stacy, Madison Historical will serve as a hub for all of the great historical resources in Madison County. Along with consuming the digital archive’s historical references, the public can become producers as well. Themes of government, industry, education, law and culture comprise the accessible, yet authoritative, content in such forms as:

• Encyclopedia articles on significant people, places and events in the county
• Oral history interviews, including audio recordings and complete transcripts, with a wide range of people who have lived in Madison County and played a role in shaping its history
• Historical items such as photographs, letters or documents that can be scanned and uploaded to the digital archive

Project goals include digitally highlighting the physical collections to foster public interest in visiting local museums and historical societies. It will also serve as a valuable resource for local teachers and students, who can incorporate local history into their teaching and learning by using materials from the website.

“This summer, the Department of Historical Studies is offering an online version of its public history course where we will train area teachers to research and write encyclopedia articles, conduct oral histories and collect digital images of historical artifacts,” Stacy explained. “We hope they will use these skills not only to contribute to Madison Historical, but also to encourage their students to contribute to the site by training them in the skills of digital archiving, research and historical writing.”

“Many people think that history teaching and scholarship has not changed in many years, but this project shows how historians are embracing the web and its potential for democratizing history and preserving local history in new ways,” said Manuel.

For a complete list of partner institutions and the network of sponsors who have supported Madison Historical, including the Madison County Regional Office of Education, Madison County Government, Phillips 66 and attorney John Simmons, visit

For more information on the launch event, contact SIUE College of Arts and Sciences Special Events Facilitator Cindy Scarsdale at (618) 650-5049 or

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