Digitization Day

What happens at a Digitization Day event?

Lots of stuff! The first thing that will happen when you attend a Digitization Day event is that you’ll be greeted with some paperwork! That paperwork is the basis for everything we do throughout the event.

You’ll be asked to fill out to forms: a Contact form, which is all about you; and a Biographical Form which is all about the person you are remembering. The biographical form asks basic information about the person’s service during the war. It’s okay if you don’t know this stuff, we’ll take whatever you do know! If you want to skip the lines at an event, you can download these forms and fill them out at home.

Once the paperwork is complete, our Welcome Desk will give you a packet (with some more paperwork), a ticket and a box for your objects and direct you to an Interview Station.

At the Interview Station you’ll be working with a volunteer, oftentimes a local university student, to create the online profile for your WWI relative. They’ll explain the Memorandum of Digital Rights, which says that you own the objects you’re bringing in and that they are not under copyright. By signing this you also give us permission to scan and/or photograph your objects and add the digital images to the Connecticut State Library collections, the CTDA and other online platforms that are freely available for use by the public.

Once that is done, the fun begins. You’ll work with your Interviewer to tell your loved one’s WWI story and the story of the objects, if they have one. The objects chosen for digitization will go back into the box and be sent for digitization. This is all done right on site so you can keep an eye on them if you want.

However we hope you’ll go check out what else is going on. We always try to have at least one activity happening while you wait. This might be a film about a Connecticut doughboy, a conservation specialist who can talk to you about how to preserve your collections, or a genealogist who can help you find more information about your family’s involvement in WWI. Or you can walk around and hear the great stories of other participants and see the cool things they’ve brought in.

When the digitization is done, one of our volunteers will get your objects back to you and give you a note about how to find your collection online.

In all the process will take anywhere between 1-2 hours depending on how many stories and objects you have. We do our best to get you in and out as quickly as possible, though you are welcome to hang out as long as you like!

What kinds of things are you collecting or looking for?

We are looking for anything related to World War One. That could be a photograph, a bundle of letters or a pickelhaube (the German spiked helmets were a popular souvenir!) We have had people bring in all sorts of cool trench art, discharge papers, medals and shaving kits. There are diaries, postcards, paybooks and pieces of a zeppelin. You can read more about what we can and cannot accept here.

To us, every photograph, document and object tells the story of someone’s role World War One, and they are all important. To see some examples of what other people have brought in check out our gallery here or the full collection in the Connecticut Digital Archive.

How long does it take to participate?

It will depend on how many people you are remembering and how much stuff you have! If you have a single person and a single photo, you can be in and out in under an hour. If you have two soldiers, a nurse and three boxes of photos, papers and souvenirs, it’ll take a bit longer!

We appreciate that you are taking your time to be a part of this project so we try to get everyone in and out as quickly as possible. If you’re planning on attending an event, we would recommend setting at least an hour aside. If you have multiple stories or a large number of objects it can easily take more than an hour.

There are a few forms you’ll have to fill out, so if you’d like to save a little time, you can fill one of them out at home and bring it to the event. One side is a Contact Information form that is all about you, and the other side is a Biographical Information form that is all about your WWI loved one. You can download the form here, just please note that we’ll need a form for each person you’ll be remembering!

Are you going to keep my things?

No! We are only interested in scanning or photographing your objects. We bring all of our equipment to our events and do the scanning and photography onsite. When we’re done, we return you objects to you.

Now, if you’re interested in donating your WWI era objects, we would be happy to talk to you about that. You can contact us at ctinww1@ct.gov.

What are you doing with the stories and images?

We are adding all of the stories and images we collect to the Connecticut Digital Archive (CTDA). The CTDA is preservation repository that is a collaborative effort by Archives & Special Collections at the University of Connecticut Libraries and the Connecticut State Library. Which in simpler terms means we are working together to create an online system that will preserve the digital resources created by museums, libraries and other other cultural heritage organizations in Connecticut for generations to come.


The CTDA is also free for anyone to use so you can share the images you contribute with friends and family around the world. This also means that students, teachers, and researchers can access and use the resources to tell learn more about the war and the effects it had on our families, communities, state and nation.

My relative didn’t live in Connecticut, can I still participate?

Yes! We don’t care where your soldier (or sailor, or nurse, or…) was from, as long as you are a Connecticut resident we will include their stories, photos, papers and keepsakes. It is more important to us that this knowledge is preserved.

Not a Connecticut resident but have a relative or friend who lived in Connecticut during the war? You can participate too! We have set up a place online where you can tell us all about your Connecticut relative and send us digital images of their objects and we’ll get them added to our collections! You can learn more about that here.

Have a WWI story but you’re not a Connecticut resident & your story isn’t about a Connecticut person? We wish we could include it, but it just falls outside the scope of our mission. But don’t despair! Lots of other states are doing similar projects and every state has a WWI Centennial group. Try contacting them or your State Library or Historical Society to see if they’re doing something similar.

I have some WWI stuff but don’t know who it belonged to, can I still participate?

Yes, as long as your objects meet our submission criteria AND you are a resident of Connecticut.

Will I get a copy of the digital images?

Yes and no. We are not currently providing copies of the images we create for participants to take home from an event. However, the images are all freely available online and we’ll give you a link to your collections before you leave. We can also provide images through a variety of methods for those without internet access or a computer.

Can you tell me how much my collection is worth?

No, that is not something we cannot do. We are not able to provide appraisals or help you find buyers for your collections. We are also unable to make suggestions about how to sell your collections.

I came to an event but can’t find my stuff online. When will it be available?

We are trying to get everything online as quickly as possible, but it may take a while. We have had a tremendous response to this project, which is fantastic, but it also means we have far more content to process than we anticipated. There is a fair amount of work we have to do on our end to make the photos, letters and other keepsakes we’ve digitized searchable. As soon as we have completed that work we’ll let you know where to find your collection.

In the meantime we are trying to use lots of the images we have captured on Facebook and Instagram so keep an eye out! You may see a familiar face there!

What if I can’t make it to a Digitization Day? Can I contribute online?

Yes! You can still participate! We have set up a place online where you can tell us all about your Connecticut relative and send us digital images of their keepsakes so we can get them added to our collections! You’ll find some directions, guidelines, and an online form to help you. It is a pretty easy process, but if you have problems, let us know and we’ll help you out.

We’ll try to respond as quickly as possible to let you know that we’ve received your submission, but if you don’t hear from us, give us a nudge!

Get started with an online submission here.