Footnote has taken the initiative to digitize all 58,000 names inscribed into the Vietnam War Memorial. It has also correlated them with military personnel records from the National Archives and made this information searchable from within an interactive Flash application.
The project started by hiring a National Geographic photographer to take over 2,000 high quality photos of the wall. The company then stitched them together, indexed the names, and pulled out information about each person from two major national databases: one for casualties and one for personnel. The whole process took about four months to complete and the end result is being provided for free.
If you want to find a particular name, you can run a simple keyword search. You’ll be shown key facts such as the person’s rank, grade, specialty, and casualty date. You can also search for names that conform to certain criteria such as enlistment type, race, hometown, casualty date, squadron, and much more.
The main intention of Footnote, which launched in January 2007, is to digitize original source content in its original form. Most of the content comes from the National Archives and therefore remains in the public domain, but the company charges a subscription fee for access to most of it.
CEO Russ Wilding says he also wants the service to become the “world’s shoebox” where people upload their own historical materials, and then annotate, manage and share them with others.
Expect Footnote to digitize other memorials from around the globe such as the ones at Ellis Island and Pearl Harbor.