Digitisation of Traditional Format Library Materials

Digitisation Project Brief - Sir Edmund Barton manuscript collection


To digitise the Library's frequently-used Barton Manuscript collection (MS 51) as a Centenary of Federation project. MS 51 is in good condition for a primarily paper based collection of its age, so, while the collection as a whole will benefit from reduced physical stress brought about by alternate user copies, the primary motivation for this process is access rather than preservation. However, some Preservation issues exist regarding care and handling.


Digitise and make the Barton Manuscript collection publicly available.

Convert the MS 51 finding aid to EAD to facilitate access.

Use templates from the Heritage Documentation Management System (HDMS).

Produce digital images at 300 dpi resolution, 8 bit per colour (24bit) RGB or, if scanned from microfilm, 8 bit greyscale. For colour, though all images will be stored as 24 bit files, the internal processing of the capture device will be at least 36 bit. The primary file type produced will be TIFF, however, other files for access will also be produced such as JPEG. The type of access provided will determine the exact file type, resolution and compression, and the range of files required (see section 11 Access, EAD and EBind).

Deliver the digital images of the diary to users via the World Wide Web

Description of the material to be digitised

The Barton papers comprise16 security binders containing letters, 5 manuscript (14cm) boxes and two folio boxes. These comprise between 3,500-4,200 images. Other curiosities include a small Royal Doulton plate, a gold medallion and a ceramic vase.

Correspondence 1827-1896 relates mainly to the business and family affairs of William Barton, and to Edmund's early legal and political work. Correspondence 1898-1905 concerns the Federation campaign, the London conference 1900 and Barton's Prime Ministership, 1901-1903. Correspondence 1906-1920 relates mainly to Barton's family and to his work in the High Court. Correspondents include Alfred Deakin, Lord Forrest, Lord Hopetoun, Joseph Chamberlain, Sir Samuel Griffith, Sir William Lyne, Sir Henry Parkes, Lord Tennyson, Lord Jersey, George W.E. Russell, and Sir George Reid. There are also press cuttings relating to the Hastings-Macleay election, 1898, and to the activities of the Federation delegates in London, 1900; Commonwealth Constitution material, 1885-1901, some of it annotated in Barton's hand; family documents; commissions and honours.

The majority of the correspondence is black or browny ink on yellowed paper. There is a large amount of typescript in later series, often annotated in pencil. Some of the annotations could be difficult to read. One item had red pencil. Other paper colours were red/brown, blue, blue/green, and red ink on browny paper. There are also typescript carbon copies (blue and purple on white). One volume had a cover that was royal blue with gold lettering and one difficult item had gold lettering on cream parchment (MS 51/11/1249a). A few items, like the programs (eg MS51 11/1244), are quite colourful. Some of the correspondence exhibits ink bleeding on the reverse side of the paper. A number of items need unfolding and nearly all of series 1 is in mylar sleeves in security bound folders.

The largest item in the collection measured 50 x 62cm (MS51/1/1702a). There are around 100 images that will be bigger than an A3 page (42 x 29.7cm). Many of these are long newspaper cuttings. These items will have to be scanned in segments and recombined (or stitched) or digitised using the solutions developed for the Library's Rare maps digitisation project.


NLA staff


Manuscripts Collection

Researchers interested in Barton

Digitisation Team

Centenary of Federation

Digitisation Steering Committee

Institutions with related collections and subject interest

Preservation Services



Program of work


Date completed or time period

Collection arrangement

Preservation treatment

Digitisation commenced

Devise scheme for persistent identifiers (PIs)

Retrieval of master images from CD-ROM and renaming to conform to the Library's naming scheme for manuscript digital objects

Store digital images on the DOSS

Application of metadata to the manuscript finding aid

Build of site for Web delivery

Digitisation completed

Website completed and launched


Project owner/Driver

Project manager

Kevin Bradley

Key information sources


Project Team


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