Digitizing 52 Years of American Heritage

Complex Conversion Reintroduces a Beloved Publication to Loyal Readers, While Introducing it to a New Generation


American Heritage magazine has chronicled the American experience what makes life in the United States different from life anywhere else since 1954. In 28,240 pages published in more than 300 issues over 50 years, American Heritage magazine has covered serious concerns and colorful sidelights, powerful institutions and ordinary people, skillfully drawing on the past to illustrate the present.

In early 2005, American Heritage realized that developing a Web site that incorporated its complete archives would be a great way to reintroduce the magazine to the many people who had grown up as readers. This archived content would also serve as a rich, credible base from which to launch new content, including articles, blogs and pictures that the magazine intended to update daily.

Unfortunately, back issues of the magazine were available only in print, with only a few complete sets available. The magazine needed to digitize these issues to preserve them and make them available online. However, the magazine’s multiple column format, which included photos and graphics, made digitization a complex process, which meant they needed to work with an experienced provider...


With a September 2005 deadline looming, American Heritage turned to Innodata Isogen. A recognized leader in digitizing content, Innodata Isogen had the ability to complete this complex project under the tight timeframe. The magazine was also impressed by Innodata Isogen's responsiveness, as well as its structured, organized approach to project management.


Magazines present unique challenges for data conversion projects. With multiple page layouts, articles of differing lengths, page jumps, photos and artwork, a magazine can look dramatically different from one issue to the next. The quality of the vintage hard-copy source materials also varied considerably—with some pages torn, folded, overwritten, smudged, or with text bleeding through from the reverse side.

To meet these challenges, Innodata Isogen used optical character recognition (OCR) software to scan each page, edited the resulting scans by hand to clean and enhance the images, manually sequenced text columns, and then used a proprietary OCR process to automatically recognize the text data. Once the text was converted to an electronic format, Innodata Isogen performed online proofing and spell checking, marked up the text data with XML tags in accordance with the American Heritage coding structure, and performed additional quality checks to ensure correct XML implementation.

The Innodata Isogen team completed the project in just 30 days, allowing American Heritage to easily meet its deadline.


Today, more than 50 years of American Heritage back issues that were once available only through hard-copy archives are now accessible anytime, anywhere via the Web. These online issues created a sound foundation for the American Heritage web site and now show up regularly in online searches, dramatically increasing awareness of the American Heritage brand. They are reacquainting readers who grew up with the magazine with familiar articles while introducing a whole new generation to its intriguing content.

Moreover, since the initial site went live, American Heritage also turned to Innodata Isogen for additional projects that include digitizing 20 years worth of Invention & Technology magazine and bringing its line of American Heritage books online.

With increasing awareness has come growing numbers of visitors. By March 2006, the site had 175,000 unique visitors making 1.3 million page views and in April was on pace to receive 200,000 visitors. As a result, American Heritage has been able to increase subscriptions, boost advertising rates and thereby improve its bottom line.



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