Friday, October 12, 2012
The Hite Report book cover

The Schlesinger Library is dedicated to finding new ways to use technology in manuscript processing. The library began an Experimental Archives project in fall 2011 with a team of archivists working collaboratively to brainstorm and then test new approaches. At its core, the project aims to innovate, stressing the importance of creativity and experimentation—trial and error.

As the project moves into its second year, the team has completed in-depth work on the first phase of three core experiments. Two of these experiments center around the papers of author and sexologist, Shere Hite, famous for her 1976 publication The Hite Report: A Nationwide Study of Female Sexuality.

This groundbreaking work was based upon responses to questionnaires in which women detailed their sexual experiences, what they thought about sex, and what they liked and didn’t like. While she designed her questionnaires to be answered anonymously, many respondents added personal identifying information, such as their names or street addresses. Through the Experimental Archives Project, team members explored ways to use technology to redact identifying information on digital copies of the completed questionnaires while also capturing key information in a searchable database. Phase I of this project has been completed and now more than 4,000 questionnaires have been digitized and redacted from Hite’s many publications, including The Hite Report on Male Sexuality (1981), The Hite Report on the Family: Growing Up under Patriarchy (1994), and The Hite Report on Women Loving Women (2007). Soon, these will be available to researchers, first in the Library’s reading room and eventually online.

A collage of images from this project, including images of Shere Hite, a screenshot of the project database, and the cover page of a questionnaire.A collage of images from this project, including images of Shere Hite, a screenshot of the project database, and the cover page of a questionnaire.

For further information on this and other pilot projects from the Experimental Archives team, please visit the Experimental Archives wiki.

This blog entry supports the Day of Digital Archives, an initiative to raise awareness of digital archives through a collective blog. On October 12, 2012, go to the Day of Digital Archives website to read posts and tweets about digital projects around the world.