Community Service

LGAN Produces The Emigrant Names CD for the Oregon-California Trails Association and National Park Service.

To aid in the preservation of American History and assist dedicated volunteers in the Oregon-California Trails Association (OCTA), LGAN has produced a software application called the Emigrant Names CD. This application searches a database of over 66,000 documented pioneers who migrated westward between 1832 and 1899. The Emigrant Names CD was produced pro bono for OCTA and the National Park Service.

For this effort, Looking Glass Analytics won statewide recognition as a finalist in the 2004 WSA Industry Achievement Awards in the Outstanding Contribution to the Community category. Also, OCTA, with support from the National Park Service, nominated Looking Glass Analytics for the 2003 KCTS Good Works corporate philanthropy award.

The Context:
The Oregon-California Trails Association is dedicated to preserving the physical remains of the old trails and enhancing our knowledge of the emigrants who traveled overland in the migration that settled the American West in the second half of the 19th century. The Census of Overland Emigrant Documents (COED) is one of OCTA's major initiatives in pursuit of its objectives. Since 1986, COED has been active in creating the database that underlies the Emigrant Names CD. This database is the culmination of some 100,000 hours of effort by over 200 volunteers in the surveying of documents, entry of data, and administrative tasks. The project, begun so heroically, had stagnated over the past 5 years, owing to insufficient technical expertise among volunteers to digitally organize and deliver the massive amount of accumulated information to the public. Unfortunately, OCTA has insufficient financial resources to hire out the job of making the database accessible. At that point, Looking Glass Analytics became aware of OCTA's problem, volunteered its technical resources on a strictly pro bono basis, and in 5 months produced the Emigrant Names CD. Looking Glass Analytics' timely philanthropic contribution of their special expertise in data management, analysis, and application development enabled the CD to appear for sale in the OCTA catalog in time for the 2002 Christmas holidays. All proceeds benefit OCTA, thereby accelerating OCTA’s continuing contributions to society.

The Application:
The Emigrant Names CD software allows users to search a database of westward pioneers who traveled along various emigration trails during the 19th century. The database contains information obtained from surveys of thousands of diaries, newspaper articles, guidebooks, personal letters, autobiographies, and many other sources in which the travels of individual pioneers are documented. Searches for individuals can be accomplished by name, gender, and time frame of travel. For each person identified in a name search, the age, party size, country or US county of origin, and other emigrant characteristics (e.g. Mormon, Trader, died on the way, etc.) are returned. Separate searches for source documents can be specified by title, author, or document type. For each document identified in a document search, the current location of the document, records of all emigrants mentioned in the document, and information about each emigrant like that found in a name search are returned. Soundex and partial match technology support users who are not certain of the spelling of a name or title.

In 2005 LGAN completed work on Emigrant Names 2.0. This version included additional surveys of emigrant travel documents, additional features to ease navigation, and links to the OCTA surveys of the emigrant documents.


If you are interested, please read the nomination letters, submitted on our behalf for the 2003 KCTS Good Works corporate philanthropy award:

 npslogo.gif  National Park Service  read letter (pdf)
   Oregon-California Trails Association  read letter (pdf)

Wednesday, June 11, 2008, Administrator

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