Blog #5 (Because interesting titles are hard this week)

The readings and practicums this week challenged me to think of archives in a new way. Before this week whenever someone mentioned archives or an archival material, my mind immediately went to the saving or preserving for future generations or whatever was being mentioned. After reading Trevor Owen’s “What Do You Mean by Archives?” I don’t know that my mind or definition behind what an archive is has been changed. Although not all archives are there for the preservation of a document, they seem to all serve a purpose in making sure that something, whether it be a personal document, files, or online articles, is stored away for others, or yourself, to use at a later date. While looking through the archives provided to us I kept in mind the differences and similarities that these archives have, and how those difference and/or similarities can make a difference to how the public accesses and uses the content on these pages.

The first archive that I looked at was The Shelley-Godwin Archive. The website gives a brief description of what the archive holds. It was nice to have a overall view of what I was going to see throughout the website written out on the first page. This was my favorite of the online archives because of the fact it digitized the documents. Although at some points it did seem confusing on how to use the website, there was a video explaining just how to use it which was very helpful.

The next archive that I went to was the DPLA online archive. I’m not going to lie, this page gave me a little bit of anxiety when first looking at it. It seemed to be very overwhelming with a WHOLE BUNCH of information and archival materials. Having a lot of information isn’t a bad thing but it also shouldn’t overwhelm the visitor as they first make it to your page. I did like the timeline that this archive presented. It was very interesting to pick the area of the world that you wanted to focus on, as well as, the language and the time period. It made going through the wide variety much easier for me.

The 9/11 archive left me wanting more. This archive could take a little from the DPLA and it would benefit them tremendously. Most people in the U.S. know what 9/11 is but with some of the great graphics that this online has to offer the opening page of this website could be a little more interesting. Besides the design factor, the website was fairly easy to use. The collections were simply divided into categories which were user friendly and very nice to navigate through.

The last archive, The Bracero History Archive, was very easy to use, as well as, very appealing to the eye. My favorite part of this online archive is that they gave teachers resources on how to use the documents and recordings in the classroom. I think more archives should implement this. It is great to give a user outside of the history world a reason to use an archive other than for research or to write a paper with it. By teachers using this resources, their students will be learning from primary sources and not just text books.

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I am a graduate student at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette studying Public History.

2 thoughts on “Blog #5 (Because interesting titles are hard this week)”

  1. I love that you pointed out the fact that archives translates to so many different audiences depending on which context it is used, and one of the strategies Shelia Brennan used in her article to avoid a broad discussion was to make it known that she was describing just history museums. Do you think that by having such broad definitions for multiple words that we use in public and history is doing the field and those wondering what it is a disservice?


    1. I don’t know that it is doing a disservice, I think that it is up to us to define what we mean when we use words that are usable over multiple disciplines. This goes into not using a vocabulary that the gen pop wouldn’t understand. This is a task that all professionals, not just historians of different fields, should try to abide by.


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