Item Selection Guidelines

Visual Items

Photographs, paintings, architectural drawings, mechanical drawings, sketches, maps, and related items may be scanned or photographed. The entire original image should be captured in the scan or photograph, including blemishes, tears, and aging.See the scanning and digital photography sections of the Contributors’ manual for technical assistance.

Scan any writing or other information on that appears on the face of the photograph, its mat, or its frame, only if it is significant information. Otherwise, scan only the image.

Photographs should have broad or local appeal and should have easily identified historical significance. Photographs also could be chosen to represent significance in the history of photography.


Manuscripts are handwritten documents such as journals, letters, diaries, or accounts.

Choose manuscripts that provide insight into how people lived, into an important event, or into connections between people or places.

Manuscript material must include a full and accurate transcription of all pages of the document. Contributing Partners may do the transcribing or may ask Maine Memory Network for assistance. Suggested transcript procedures can be found in our transcription guidelines. Manuscripts should be digitized using the same methods as visual images.

The author or the recipient of the manuscript must be identified, and at least a “circa” date provided.


The Maine Memory Network discourages the digitizing of books. Published books and compiled books of town records, or similar items, present technical problems with presentation on MMN. In addition, since we do not accept partial items, the entire book must be scanned and transcribed. Copyright also is a concern.

Newspaper Clippings

Clippings can only be included if you can identify the publication and date of the article. Newspaper photographs that do not accompany an article should be used only if needed for an exhibit or other illustrative purposes.

Clippings may be submitted if the scan or photograph of the item is of sufficient quality to make the clipping readable and usable. Try to keep the print from the back side of the clipping from showing through when the item is scanned or photographed, and make sure that the text and background are clear enough to be readable.

All newspaper stories used on the Maine Memory Network should be transcribed, so the content can be accessible using assistive technology, as required by the Americans With Disabilities Act. If the article is short enough, the transcription – or significant portions of it – can be included in the description field. Generally, however, a transcription of the entire article is required.


Whenever possible, one-dimensional objects should be scanned rather than photographed, because scanning creates a higher quality image.

The entire object should be photographed or scanned. Supplemental photographs of portions of an item can be used to highlight special features, or photograph all angles for a 360° “virtual object.” Both would be in addition to the image of the entire object.

Oral Histories

The Maine Memory Network is an excellent place for oral histories, and they are encouraged.

Audio files in .mp3 format can be included, but should be edited down to a relatively short presentation of the most interesting material. Three minutes is the recommended length. Consult with the Outreach Team for technical assistance.

Oral histories should be fully transcribed, so the content can be accessible using assistive technology. Transcriptions should include every word that is spoken on the tape when transcribing oral histories or other audio documents (including “um,” “ah,” and other similar pause words). Be sure to transcribe both the interviewer’s questions and the informant’s answers. Comments such as [laughter] or [long pause] may be added in brackets.

Sound and Video Files

Sound (.mp3) and video (.mov) files can include recordings of speeches, film footage, original motion pictures, readings of manuscripts, or recordings of Native American ceremonies. Contact the Outreach Team for details.