Why we need digital archives

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The abundance of digital archives is a boon to historians and anybody who is willing to dig deeper in any topic they have an interest on.

But, that is not where it ends. Or maybe begins.

Digital archives can only store what it can find, on the shallow. As I have been sharing with friends and in the Facebook page of Davao of the Past, a lot of materials are lying around gathering dust, waiting to be “discovered”. This is where digital archives are important, because most of them, at some point will either fall victim to fire, termites or just be simply thrown away. Archives in the advent of digital and the net, have made so much progress scanning and storing whatever it has.

What about the others? They are there somewhere.

If most industrialized countries have done so much digitizing its collections, what about those in mostly third world countries? The Philippines did, but not much. In fact if you do city by city, town by town, there are varying degrees, from non-existent, to almost none, to a few.

This is the aim of Davao of the Past, in the last few years, scouring the net, to contributions of its members, it has built up albums of old Davao, but it is not enough.

The problem lies in a lot of factors, technology still has to seep in most homes, where you have a abundance of material (called in local or any parlance, family albums). It is a material of somebody who has some equipment, a scanner or a digital camera, or a smartphone and take photos of whatever they have.

You see, a digital archive doesn’t have to mean those in the museums or libraries, it can start at your own home, with the most basic of all technologies.

And while you are at it, with some internet connection, you can show them to the world, or to be specific, to Davao of the Past. With that, we can teach our kids the importance of history, and knowing ourselves as a city and people.

Photo above: Two Bagobo men with lances : Davao, Mindanao — 1901; 359; 1901
From the collection of Philippine Photographs Digital Archive, Special Collections Library, University of Michigan

Find below are some of digital archives and repositories where you can find something about Davao.

Charles F. Clagg Photograph Collection – 1920, June July

Philippine Photographs Digital Archive, Special Collections Library, University of Michigan

Retrato – The Photo Archive of the Filipinos Heritage Library

National Archives of the Philippines

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