Digitization Campaign

For more than twelve years, the University of Florida has been digitizing historical resources documenting the Panama Canal, the Canal Zone, and Panama. Digitized materials in the Panama Canal Museum Collection (PCMC) are freely available for scholars, students, and people globally.

Collage of digitized photos, newspapers, maps, and postcards.

As an academic library, we make it our priority to collect, preserve, and provide access to historical materials to support education, to facilitate research and scholarship, and to raise awareness about the American era of the Panama Canal. We have already digitized approximately 300,000 pages and images that are freely available online to students, scholars, and people around the globe as part of the UF Digital Collections and the Digital Library of the Caribbean. This includes over 10,000 newspaper issues; 3,000 yearbooks and serials; and 3,000 photos, artifacts, and archival records.

The demand for digital content is increasing always. Between 2019 and 2024, requests for digital images from the PCMC tripled! Scholars, journalists, and filmmakers need digital content for their publications and documentaries. Researchers who cannot travel easily to the collection have to rely on our ability to digitize materials for them at a distance. Students of all ages request digital images for use in school papers and digital projects. We also routinely digitize all objects included in exhibits displayed in the Albert H. Nahmad Panama Canal Gallery on the UF campus and in traveling exhibits.

We are constantly digitizing materials to share online, but there is still a lot of work to do ahead of us. Although we already have approximately 300,000 images online, we have hundreds of thousands of items waiting to be digitized. Unfortunately, it takes a lot of time, labor, technology, and expertise to digitize materials in the collection. In addition to the scanning work, we have to describe each object, provide subject headings to facilitate discovery, implement quality control measures to ensure that the scanned images are high quality, and upload the images to the digital library. Because of all the time and talent needed to scan and publish these important resources, digitization can be a significant cost to the PCMC.

Our new PCMC fundraising campaign starting in 2024 is to raise funds to hire an employee to focus solely on digitizing PCMC materials. To fund this position for one year we need approximately $60,000, and we hope to have the position for two years.

With your help we can reach this goal! Our fundraising campaign aims to raise $120,000 for our Panama Canal Museum Collection Endowment, an amount that will support the digitization program for two years. To support this campaign, the Friends of the PCMC will contribute all proceeds raised by the annual Silent Auction in 2024 and 2025.

If you want to help us digitize our world class treasures, please make a gift today. Together we can make it a great success, one that will benefit the PCMC and our users far into the future.

To make a gift by check, please make your check payable to the University of Florida Foundation/PCMC Endowment #017606. Please mail the check to the Office of Development, George A. Smathers Libraries, University of Florida, PO Box 117000, Gainesville, FL 32611-7000.

To make a gift with a credit card, please call the UF Foundation’s Gift Processing toll-free number: 1-877-351-2377 (and mention Fund #017606) OR give online at https://www.uff.ufl.edu/give-now/?fund_id=017605.

You may wish to give a gift in honor or memory of a family member, friend, classmate, colleague, or group. As part of this campaign, PCMC memorial and honor gifts will be used to support the digitization program.

For more information, contact the Development Office at (352) 273-2505 or lib-development@ad.ufl.edu.

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