Proposal for Historical Assets Information & Management System (“HAIMS”)
(for adoption and development by a large, resourced historical society or historical society association)

Brief Description: HAIMS is a historical assets information and management system which is based upon grass-roots authentication (as it should be) married with modern technology (computers, databases and the Internet) so as to present to the public a rich source of easily identifiable historical assets. Rolling up from the community level (where managed by local historical societies), it evolves into a state, federal and international historical asset.

Historical Assets: “Historical assets” include assets normally associated as historical under the existing local, state, and federal legal systems, i.e. landmarks of historical significance. They also consist of historically-significant monuments, statues, signs, photographs, paintings, posters and other images; stories, newspaper articles, books, diaries, letters, scrapbooks, publications and other writings; machines, equipment, tools, implements, and other physical objects of historical significance; and interviews, transcripts and statements of persons involved in historically-significant events. These assets are many times found in local historical society museums, museums of history, and other specialized museums and archives, but as of this date, are virtually unavailable to anyone other than the physical visitors to the physical location of the assets.

System Input: The “gatekeeper” is central to ensuring that true, quality assets are introduced into HAIMS. This gatekeeper is simply a disciplined application system, similar to the trademark registration system used by the United States Patent and Trademark Office, but administered at the local level. In order for an asset to be placed into HAIMS, an application must be filed out and filed with the local historical society or other association charged with investigating such applications. Upon acceptance of the application, the assets are permanently introduced into HAIMS.

Application: The application represents the first threshold in ensuring that true, quality historical assets enter into the system. The application is a standardized form, which requires at least the following input:

(1) applicant’s name and contact information,

(2) physical description, including date of origin, of the historical asset,

(3) historical significance and uniqueness of the historical asset,

(4) names and contact information of persons, as references to the historical significance of the asset, if available, and

(5) attachment of a facsimile or image of the actual historical asset, if feasible.

Processing: The asset application is investigated by the local historical society or other relevant association to confirm that the asset is truly of historical significance, by bringing its own experience and judgment to bear, contacting the applicant and references for further information, contacting local or other experts with experience and judgment in such assets, and convening an empowered group of persons to decide on the merits of the application. Cases of doubt should be resolved in the favor of granting the application, as the process is inherently subjective, and knowing in advance what persons in the future will believe is historically significant is reasonably speculative.

Repository: Once accepted, the application data must be properly placed into HAIMS, such that the assets will be visible to persons through common computerized searching routines on the Internet. They will also be computer imaged, so that they may be visualized from anywhere in the world on the Internet. Critical cataloguing matters, which should be separately searchable, include:

(1) date of origin of the asset,

(2) general description of the asset, e.g. “coin”, “letter” or “surfboard”

(3) detailed description of the asset,

(4) description of locality for which asset is historically significant,

(5) description of owners or other persons for which the asset is significant,

(6) location of the asset,

(7) medium of the asset, e.g. computer graphic or physical object,

(8) historical significance of the asset, and

(9) availability and terms of procuring a copy of the asset, if available.

Effect: HAIMS, properly implemented, should result in an accurate and quality-oriented historical asset repository and database, so that historical assets may be quickly identified and located for historical study, education, or other interest. The system is a “grass-roots” driven system, which should bring in a vast array of historically significant assets. Being easily accessible, those persons with interest in any particular asset will have great informational access, and potential acquisition of copies, from anywhere in the world.

Copyright ~ Bruce L. Beal ~ 2006 ~ All Rights Reserved