A grant written to the Civil Liberties Public Education Fund (CLPEF) was the beginning of the Heart Mountain Digital Preservation Project. Until that time, photographs, documents, and other materials on the Heart Mountain Internment Center were kept in Hinckley Library Preservation Room. This provided protection for the archives but little access.
The purpose of CLPEF is "to sponsor research and public educational activities and to publish and distribute the hearings, findings, and recommendations of the Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians so that the events surrounding the exclusion, forced removal and internment of civilians and permanent resident aliens of Japanese ancestry will be remembered, and so that the causes and circumstances of this and similar events may be illuminated and understood." With this mission statement in mind, the HMDPP Committee proposed a grant to CLPEF. A $15,000 grant from CLPEF got the Heart Mountain Digital Preservation Project off the ground.
The HMDPP Committee determined to archive the Heart Mountain materials to organize and preserve them, to digitize the materials in order to preserve them and make them available in a variety of formats, to create a web site, and to hold a public program featuring a historian. The Committee hired an archivist to place the materials in order and create a plan of action to continue the process. The archives have been scanned and placed on optical discs. The original web site (1999) was created by members of the committee (2006 site redesign by library staff). Slides have been created from scanned images and a script created to accompany the slides and are available to schools and other local organizations for use in programs. The first public program occurred April 18, 1998 at Northwest College. Mike Mackey, noted historian on Japanese Internment showed slides and give a speech entitled, "Fear and Confusion: Attitudes in Wyoming Toward Interment at Heart Mountain." After the program Hinckley Library held a reception that included a demonstration of the web site, a pictorial display, and an archives display.
The Heart Mountain archives at Northwest College are now, digitally, out of the Preservation Room and available to the world on the World Wide Web. Students in Wyoming may now see a slide show on the Heart Mountain Internment. The public program and associated publicity have increased awareness in Wyoming and Montana. Hinckley Library staff intends to expand on this project and increase archival holdings. We are guided by the mission statement of CLPEF and also, of the Japanese American National Museum which is, "to make known the Japanese American experience as an integral part of our nation's heritage in order to improve understanding and appreciation for America's ethnic and cultural diversity."