Case Study – Accessible Archives
Accessible Archives envisioned providing web access to notable 18th and 19th century writings. These historically valuable writings include The Pennsylvania Gazette 1728-1800 (“The New York Times of the 18th century”), county histories, full issues of Godey’s Lady’s Book, The Liberator, 19th century African American newspapers; and various newspapers’ accounts of the Civil War.
Digitized offshore (microfiche scanned for text and graphics, and run through an optical character reader), Accessible Archives needed reliable code and quality control to convert thousands of items to XML.
Accessible Archives was founded in 1990 with the goal of utilizing computer technology to make available vast quantities of archived historical information, previously furnished only on microfilm. In pursuit of this vision, primary source material from 18th and 19th century periodicals was selected to reflect a broad view of the times. This material needed to be assembled into databases with a strict attention to detail to enable the user to search and manipulate information in ways that enable access to specific information with pinpoint accuracy. Historian James P. Whittenburg commented, “What you have is one of the most important developments in early American research since microfilm.”
Access Innovations provided the technical expertise to accomplish Accessible Archives’ objective. Working in batches by publication, Access Innovations used customized code to convert nearly 400,000 individual files from simple HTML to database-friendly XML, including links to associated graphics and publication metadata. Close quality control ensured that each article would display reliably on screen.
Accessible Archives is now able to offer subscriptions to this valuable historical resource that brings important documents out of the basement and within the reach of users everywhere.