Eureka! ArchiveGrid helps to quench your thirst for knowledge

Today, January 24th, is an important day in American history. On this day in 1848, a nugget of gold was found by James W. Marshall at Sutter’s Mill in Coloma, California. The promise of gold that could be found on the ground or plucked out of a river drew tens of thousands of fortune seekers. The Gold Rush left an enduring mark on our state — our state motto is “Eureka!” (“I have found it!”); the nickname for California is the “Golden State;” and our state seal includes a tiny gold digger (along with a grizzly bear, wine grapes, and Minerva).

On the world stage, January 24th is a notable day because it marks the first time beer was available in cans. This led to significant disruption in the marketplace, as national beer producers and distributors were able to gain advantage over local distributors. Of course, you might argue that the tables have been turned, with tastes turning to craft beer (on tap, please!) in recent years. But whether you are interested in doing research on precious minerals or changes in food production, ArchiveGrid has the answers.

If you are interesting the evolution of food packaging and containers, look no further than the Continental Group Oral History Project from the Columbia Center for Oral History, Columbia University. Covering the time period from 1904-1974, this series of interviews with 226 subjects — everyone from executives in the corner office to workers on the factory floor — covers packaging (“metal cans, crowns and closures, glass and plastic containers, folding and corrugated cartons, fiber drums, grocery and multi-wall bags, paper cups and tubs, and flexible packaging”) alongside labor relations, manufacturing, and mergers / acquisitions, and advertising. And yes, there is discussion of the difference between beer cans and food cans.

There are numerous collections and items relating to the California Gold Rush, but to my mind none more tantalizing than the correspondence from those toiling in the gold fields to those back home, such as those in the Bancroft Library‘s California Gold Rush Letters collection. You can also find documentation regarding the remarkable growth of shipping at the San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park — in those days before the railroads, many people and most goods came via sea.  This documentation includes, for example, crew lists from ships that sailed in and out of San Francisco during these years; this includes lists of those who worked on the ship, but also contains inventories of unclaimed merchandise carried by the vessels (and how much they sold for), giving a glimpse into boomtown economics. Also, in the personal narrative category, a sea journal kept on board the Croton, detailing the 195 day journey between New York and San Francisco.

ArchiveGrid — we know you will prosper from the wealth of archival description, and that you will slake your thirst for primary sources!

Site Maps can point the way to your finding aids

Last month Ellen posted a note about some of the ways in which we routinely harvest finding aids from ArchiveGrid contributor’s websites.

This month we’re working with our first ArchiveGrid contributor to make their finding aids available with the Site Map protocol.  In a way it’s surprising that this is our first opportunity to harvest finding aids this way.  The Site Map protocol has been around for years, is a widely used method of making website content visible to search engines, and is relatively easy to set up.  At any rate, we’re very pleased to have a Site Map to guide our way.

In our experience in support of ArchiveGrid in cases where a protocol beyond just following links on the website is employed, institutions have in some cases expressed interest in OAI-PMH. In these cases a Site Map may prove to be a more effective mechanism for sharing finding aids.  Site Maps can help search engines see the documents you want them to see (Google withdrew support for OAI-PMH in 2008), may already be supported as part of content management systems or web server platforms, and are familiar to a wide array of harvesters.  For valuable insights on the role Site Maps and metadata play for institutional repositories in Google Scholar, we recommend the Library HiTech article Invisible institutional repositories: addressing the low indexing ratios of IRs in Google by Kenning Arlitsch and Patrick O’Brien.

If you have Site Maps in place that we could use to harvest your finding aids, and of which we’re not yet aware, please let us know.


First index update of the new year rocks

Striving to better serve the information needs of music fans and connect with scholars, the library and archives at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio, is one of ArchiveGrid’s new contributors included in our most recent index update this week. With nearly 300 finding aids describing collections related to the history of rock and roll and its role in society now discoverable in ArchiveGrid, this move advances the hall of fame’s mission to raise the museum’s visibility and recognition as a learning institution and tell the story of rock and roll through exhibits and programs.

One such program related to American Archives Month last October showcased archival materials related to local music and musicians from Ohio, many of whom led rock music genres: Marilyn Manson, Judas Priest, Devo, The Black Keys, and The Pretenders. Materials related to these musicians and more appear in ArchiveGrid, advancing our new year’s resolution we discussed this week to reach more types of researchers.

Our count of archival collection descriptions now nears 1.8 million.

We also welcome our other new contributors:

Bowdoin College – George J. Mitchell Department of Special Collections and Archives

Illinois Wesleyan University – Ames Library

Bowling Green State University – Browne Popular Culture Library