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Keeping Up with History

Keeping Up with History

When you’re trying to preserve historic artifacts, how do you deal with changing technology?

Eileen Mackevich, director of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, says over centuries, language can change, making the artifacts from the mid-1800s unreadable except by experts.

“Newspapers were very, very popular. Everybody read two and three newspapers in that period of time. Some of the newspapers in our library are old German (language) newspapers. We need to go to experts to be able to translate those newspapers, due to significant 20thCentury changes in German”.

It’s not just physical artifacts that are affected. The historian for the Illinois Supreme Court says data that are archived electronically have to be migrated to updated media as technology changes, and the floppy discs of 20 years ago can’t be read.

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FILE - In this Nov. 3, 2002 file photo, Illinois state Treasurer Judy Baar Topinka participates in a Republican campaign rally in Springfield, Ill. Topinka, who won a second term for state comptroller in November 2014, died early Wednesday morning, Dec. 10, 2014, less than 24 hours after having a stroke, according to her office. She was 70. Topinka previously served three terms as Illinois state treasurer, was a former Illinois GOP chairwoman and ran for governor in 2006.

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