Campus Links

IUPUI Magazine

Technology Issue

Preserving History

Article by Ric Burrous

The Robertson project was a partnership between the IU School of Informatics at IUPUI, the Indiana Pacers and the renowned Crispus Attucks Museum, all of it supervised by IUPUIís Solution Center.

Informatics professor Steve Mannheimer visited the NBA legend at his home in Cincinnati, and "quickly saw an extraordinary amount of history" in Robertsonís collection of newspapers and magazine articles, other printed items and souvenirs of decades of basketball brilliance.

"I knew from experience that we needed to find some expert help to preserve those pieces of history," says Mannheimer. "I could just envision this picture of a 17-year-old Oscar, painstakingly cutting out articles about that wonderful Attucks championship team and saying Ďhey, Mom, look — Iím in the paper!í That kind of history needs to be saved for future generations."

The solution? Combine the resources of the Pacers and the Solution Center, use special paper and document archiving techniques from IUPUIís University Library to digitize and preserve Oscarís memories, and finally, collaborate with the Indiana Historical Society to print the newly preserved pages. Once the work was complete, provide them to the Crispus Attucks Museum for future generations of students to share.

"The solution didnít use a lot of dazzling technology, but it used the right technology to achieve our goal," says Teresa Bennett, director of the Solution Center. "By using state-of-the-art preservation techniques, we were able to help future generations stay in touch with a memorable group of young men who broke down color barriers, stereotypes and created some magical memories for all of Indianaís basketball fans."