- Associated Press - Friday, August 28, 2015

VINCENNES, Ind. (AP) - A trove of rare, fragile documents dating to Indiana’s pre-statehood days will soon be digitized and posted online for use by researchers, genealogists and historians.

A team affiliated with Indiana State University will scan in the Vincennes, Knox County and Vincennes University records for the project that’s being financed by a nearly $10,000 federal grant. Those documents will then be posted to Indiana Memory, a website that’s hosted by the Indiana State Library.

The records set for electronic preservation include early minutes of the board of trustees of Vincennes University, which was founded in 1806 and is Indiana’s oldest college.

Those documents shed light on the origins of higher education in Indiana and include meetings presided over by William Henry Harrison, who was then Indiana’s territorial governor and went on to become the nation’s ninth president. Harrison had the shortest tenure of any American president, dying from pneumonia after only 32 days in office.

Knox County tax records from between 1814 and 1823 will also be digitized for the project, as will paperwork related to Vincennes’ early French influence. Those documents include correspondence from Vincennes’ first Land Registrar, John Badollet, dating to the 1780s.

The historic Wabash River city that’s about 50 miles north of Evansville was founded by the French around 1732. Vincennes bills itself as Indiana’s oldest city.

Once posted online, the documents - many of which predate 1816, when Indiana achieved statehood - are certain to be of interest to researchers, genealogists and historians, said Richard King, the reference librarian at Vincennes University’s Shake Learning Resources Center.

“Largely unknown and fragile, we believe these unique records should be digitally shared with the historical community on Indiana Memory, especially due to their early time coverage of pre-statehood through post-statehood periods,” King said in a statement.

The document digitization will be done by Wabash Valley Visions and Voices, an Indiana State University-based project that’s digitized important historical documents and photographs from southwestern Indiana.

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Online:

Indiana Memory site: https://digital.library.in.gov

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