By Leah Minadeo, AHF digital asset manager
One of the artifacts on display at the Automotive Hall of Fame is the Ransom E. Olds birthday book, which contains more than 600 letters compiled by the Lansing Rotary Club in 1944. It was presented to 1968 AHF Inductee and Oldsmobile founder Ransom Olds on his 80th birthday. It includes well-wishes from everyone from 1967 AHF Inductee Henry Ford to J. Edgar Hoover to dozens of Lansing-area business owners.
To protect this item long term from light and handling damage, the book stays shut and enclosed in glass on display in our museum. Thanks to the Walter P. Reuther Library, who generously loaned the use of their book scanner, we were able to safely digitize this valuable artifact. The book scanner allowed us to produce high quality images of the entire book without placing excessive strain on the spine (or on a scanner – the book weighs about 30 pounds). The book was placed in an adjustable cradle and v-shaped plexiglass was gently pressed over top to help flatten the pages. When the glass was lowered, two cameras mounted above snapped a high-resolution photo of each page.
We look forward to providing visitors an opportunity to digitally flip through the book as AHF moves toward a more digital museum experience!