Digital Transformation Document Scanning

Digital library celebrating the achievements of Archbishop Thomas J. Murphy completed

Having completed a number of rewarding digitisation projects for clients as diverse as The National Army Museum, we were thrilled to read about another exciting historical scanning project via – a digital library celebrating the achievements of Archbishop Thomas J. Murphy.

The library, which is now considered to be complete, was the undertaking of the Archbishop’s nephew, Brian Murphy, who spent an amazing 1,300 hours on the project to make 1,000 pieces of writing from his uncle available online. As the article says – it took an extraordinary effort to archive an extraordinary life.

The archive initially went live on October 3rd 2014 – the late archbishop’s birthday. Since then, Brian Murphy has added more than 200 new documents, digitised from the Archdiocese of Seattle’s collection. The archive is posted to Archbishop Murphy High School’s website ( Murphy was much loved at the high school and visited there while battling cancer. Students held a blood drive in his honour.

Much of the archive focuses on the writings of Murphy, who served as Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Seattle from 1991 until 1997. It has four components: an interactive timeline, a collection of documents, an interactive coat of arms and a brief biography. In total, 84 milestones in Murphy’s life are on the timeline – starting with a photo from 1908, when Murphy’s parents, Bartholomew and Ellen, came to the U.S. from Ireland. It ends with Murphy’s funeral Mass in 1997.

Of the 1,100 writings, more than 500 are columns he wrote for Catholic newspapers in Montana and Seattle. The columns had to be manually retyped from yellowed newspapers and microfiche, with the oldest being from 1978. Brian Murphy, now 49, said: “He was a prolific writer throughout his life,” going on to explain that one of his uncle’s best skills was the ability to cover comprehensive issues in a way that anyone could understand.”

As a teenager, Murphy accompanied his uncle to Rome, where the newly named Archbishop received the pallium – a stole marking his position in the church. Murphy said that, even in the later years of his life, the Archbishop loved technology and travel, and would have been excited to own a smartphone! He gives much credit to the school leaders for supporting the archive and honouring his uncle’s legacy and ministry. The Archbishop held a strong belief that connecting with young people was vital to the future of the church, according to Murphy, therefore a high school was a fitting namesake.

The school’s archive is a “tremendous service” to the entire Archdiocese of Seattle, says spokesman Greg Magnoni. “We just can’t thank them enough for all the work they did on that,” he said. “It pools the historical documents of an era together.”

You can see our recent case studies here: – including our historical digitisation work for The National Army Museum – and, if you have a digitisation project in mind, get in touch for an informal chat today: