Picnooga is seeking to raise $18,000 to help create a digital history museum for the Chattanooga area and we’re asking for your contributions to help us launch it in 2017. The museum will be a free and open online resource.
A reimagined solution for the Gig age
Picnooga was founded in January 2014 as an effort to crowdsource historic photographs and share it through social media. From the beginning, the bigger picture was to create a website that would provide a one-stop historic resource with a searchable database of photographs, ephemera, and artifacts. Since then, we’ve expanded our mission to also include physical collecting. In 2016, we introduced into our collection over six hundred glass plate negatives from the late 1890s—the early 1900s, and have several hundreds of other items to be cataloged.
Since the beginning, Facebook has been a valuable marketing tool and with over 32,000 likes, we can typically reach over 250,000 desktops a month. It’s now time to evolve and grow into something bigger with a richer feature-set that meet our needs for expanded descriptions and interpretations of items, content tagging, and powerful search and viewing functionality.
To create this website, we’ll deploy a hosted product called CONTENTdm from OCLC. It’s the standard in online digital archiving for special collections and is used by the Tennesse State Library and Archives, University of Tennessee, scores of museums, libraries, and universities.
With help of public support and a handful of dedicated local history enthusiasts and volunteers, we’ve already been successful in saving and sharing thousands of items that would have been lost or locked away in archives with limited accessibility. This solution helps us advance our mission to provide an ongoing channel to exhibit and learn about local history. Our collection will be available to a global audience.
At our soft launch, nearly 1,100 items in our own collection will be cataloged and available. If this crowdfunding campaign is fully funded, we expect to be online by the end of 2017.
More content will follow and we anticipate an accessibility of thousands of additional items in the future.
A story worth telling
A phoenix rising from the ashes is a reoccurring theme throughout Chattanooga history. In the 1860s the Civil War left the land around Chattanooga barren–the muddy streets of downtown would, in time, benefit from the expansion of the railroad and the availability of hydro-electricity from the Hales Bar Dam. The Industrial Revolution would bring factory jobs, innovation, and new opportunities to the area. Major flooding and fires during the 19th and early 20th century claimed lives and livelihoods, destroying property while testing the resilience of a community and their determination to rebuild and expand.
Ironically, the over-industrialization of the land, lost jobs, and the decline of travel by rail would nearly kill the once Dynamo by 1960, and Chattanooga struggled to recover through the 1970s and early 80s. Failing infrastructure, historic landmarks, and tons of earth and rock was leveled during this period in an attempt to revitalize a fading city. The 1990s would set a stage for a renewed vision and, again, a scenic city would start to emerge.
The 21st century has brought promise, yet we still struggle with some of the mistakes and ghosts of our past. High-speed internet has replaced hydro-electric power, and a focus on innovation has again taken center stage as a catalyst for a slow but steady renaissance.
Where does my contribution go?
We’ve come quite far on our three-year journey with very little. This is a volunteer effort and none of the money raised will go to personal gain.
The majority of funds raised will be used for capital expenses like equipment–the rest is for hosting and other preservation material. To make sure that the maximum money raised goes towards the project, we are bypassing the use of a major crowdfunding platform like Indiegogo and Kickstarter. This saves us over $900 in fees.
Here’s the breakdown rounded to the nearest $100. 5% is reserved for payment processing fees for credit cards, PayPal transactions, and misc. crowdfunding costs. You’ll note that the largest portion goes into photography equipment. Included is an Ortery Photosimile 200. This piece of equipment allows us to professionally photograph artifacts up to 20″x20″ at various angles. We also plan to purchase three scanners including one large format Epson 11000XL, an Epson Perfection V850 Pro and a Pacific Image PF120 Pro Multi‑Format Film Scanner. This gives us the versatility to scan many formats at very high-resolution. If we should exceed our goal, the extra money will be earmarked for future hosting and supplies.
*Your contributions are made securely via a Paypal account.
We understand the financial shortcomings of the Chattanooga History Center. Offering a digital solution to connect with history is far less expensive than a brick and mortar institution. And although one day we’ll require a physical archive to help preserve our collection, digital exhibits will always be the primary focus of our model.
This crowdfunding campaign will hopefully serve as a proof of concept and allow us to pursue funding through sponsorships, local and national grants. Costs rise with the addition of content, so there are many opportunities for very specific funding requests. The more popular this effort is, the more we can prove that it’s a valuable service to the citizens of the Chattanooga area.