A forgotten figure from colonial era gets the digital treatment

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ALBANY -- Now that he's going digital, maybe Sir William Johnson will finally emerge from the dusty pages of American history.

The William Johnson Papers will be digitized for a DVD, giving students, scholars and history buffs easier access to the 15,000 pages of documents generated by the wealthy and powerful British official who was a towering figure in 18th-century America but is largely forgotten today.

During a news conference Wednesday in Lake George, the site of one of Johnson's battlefield victories, officials from New York historical organizations said the yearlong Johnson Papers "legacy project" will involve scanning the material onto a searchable DVD scheduled for release in October 2007.

"It's an extraordinary treasure trove of material," said Nicholas Westbrook, director of Fort Ticonderoga and vice chairman of the New York State French and Indian War 250th Anniversary Commemoration Commission.

The project is being launched by the commission, the New York State Library, the New York State Archives Partnership Trust, SUNY Press and Johnson historic sites in the Mohawk Valley. Its goal is to distribute the Johnson Papers DVD to every school and public library in New York state.

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