This month we have a special guest post by one of the DART project's essential team members, Janet K. What is DART? The Digitalization of AFWJ Records Team, a team working tirelessly to preserve the important documents of the Association of Foreign Wives of Japanese. How are they going about that immense task? Read on to find out.
50 years! Quite a span of time. Certainly one to be celebrated and remembered...and as the dust was setting after our big event in the autumn of 2019, sparks of conversation lingered…..‘How nice it would be to have our Journals and history online…’, ‘would love to see the newsletters from the early days’....
I am sure a few of us have thought and even said those words out loud! But boy, what a task….and so the words linger for a while longer….
It’s funny though, sometimes something that seems like such a huge task can shrink in size and dauntingness, with the help of your friends. And that is exactly what happened with the DART project. A few months in and most of the time has been spent waiting for the professional scanner to do his stuff! But how glad we are to have found him.
Here's a brief rundown:
We have over 50 years of newsletters, Journals and additional publications, plus a whole pile of other documents that the Historian keeps at her house. Logical brain in gear; let’s start with what we want to see most. The newsletters and Journals spanning our precious 50 years. The first task was to find people who would lend or donate their own personal copies...we couldn’t risk damage or potential loss to the Historian’s precious copies. How long do you think it would take? Quite simply, a lot less time than I imagined ...in fact, within a day or two various friends had stepped up to the mark and phase one was accomplished!
For someone like myself, who has literally never scanned anything in her life, the purchase of an overhead scanner was great, but rather daunting. First, installing software isn’t my strong point and always has me in a sweat. However, a few weeks after the Board approved of its purchase, the scanner was safely set up on my dining table. With newsletters in hand, I began….then my computer crashed.
Never one to give up easily, I got the new computer ready to go and we were off. Within a few weeks, the first 100 newsletters were scanned, labeled and stored! While you may be thinking it was rather laborsome, the hardest part was not stopping to read them word for word. It was impossible not to sneak a peek! It was interesting to see the club grow and evolve and see how the needs of members in the beginning were just the same as those of today. I smiled at the humor, shed a tear when tragedy struck and read how the women of each decade reacted and stepped up to help in any way they could for every turn of events, just as they do today. I realised that the newsletters and Journals are not just an interesting read, but they are a detailed and clearly documented account of our organization. Working on the In Remembrance project, which records and is a tribute to members who have passed away, names became lovingly admired ‘senpai’. As I read their names over and over, saw how much they had done to start the group off, how many ideas had lead to major developments in the organization, I was in awe! Now I feel like I know them personally and mourn their loss, which was for many, way too soon.
So where is DART now? The last two batches of Journals should be back from the scanner soon and how thrilling it will be to see them all listed ….every one of over 300 newsletters and Journals plus all of the additional publications, available to read online. I recommend revisiting the early days of AFWJ, by reading from the beginning how our club got started and how we made it this far….you won’t be disappointed.
Oh, and watch this space for the next phase of DART...we may need your help!
by Janet K.