Winners: Most Innovative Archives on the Web

And lastly, we focus on the winners of the Most Innovative Archives on the Web category of the Best Archives on the Web awards.

Winner: The Briscoe Center for American History at the University of Texas at Austin, Rich Media: Conservation History Association of Texas, Texas Legacy Project Records

“It is innovative on all kinds of fronts– pulling together all these descriptive tools into one interface; embedding the Google Earth mash-up; using the creativity and tech savvy of students to build the tool; and last but not least, giving primacy to the voice and body language and not just the transcript, something not all archives do with oral history but I feel is very important.”

“This is a great use of technology to bring two resources together and provide access and searchability, the latter of which seems like an especially useful feature.”

“They should be applauded for their interface design, including its use of maps, time-coded transcripts, and other features.”

So said the judges in evaluating the Briscoe Center’s impressive multimedia site. Here’s a description of the project in the nominator’s own words: “Previous to undertaking the project of turning the Texas Legacy interviews into rich media, the Conservation History Association of Texas had created interview transcripts and time codes for each of the 150 Texas Legacy project interview videos. While these resources are substantial, they stood segregated from the video content itself, and the potential within them remained dormant.

Using a software called Glifos: Social Media, students from the University of Texas’ School of Information re-purposed the existing transcripts and time codes, and created three distinct research tools: 1) transcripts synchronized to the video content, 2) tables of contents and other indices, and 3) maps which display geographical information. All three of these tools were derived from the transcript-as-descriptive-data.

The first tool, the synchronized transcripts, brings together the source video and its transcript for the first time. Besides following the words of the interviewee as they watch the video, users have the ability to conduct keyword searches of the transcripts for topics of interest to them. Once a keyword is located, users can go directly to that location within the video. Users can search within a single video, or throughout the entire Texas Legacy Records collection.

The second tool allowed the School of Information students to create subject-based, non-linear indices of the videos’ contents. These indices, too, can be searched and are synchronized to the video content.

Additionally, students derived geographical information from the transcripts and created maps that display the locations which a given interviewee discussed. In these cases, students used Google Earth software in addition to Glifos: Social Media. The results give users an exact idea (plotted by latitude and longitude) of places mentioned in the transcripts, and, again, the places are synchronized to the point in the interview where it was mentioned.

An interview with H.C. Clark which features all three of these research tools can be found here.”

One of the aspects of this project that most impressed the judges was the degree of collaboration between the Dolph Briscoe Center for American History and the University of Texas School of Information. It appears that the participants succeeded in capitalizing on all their available resources, including people, materials, and software. Congratulations to everyone involved!

Honorable Mention: HerStory 360, The HerStory Scrapbook

The judges also wanted to recognize an unusual site from outside the traditional world of archives. While it had some shortcomings, the judges thought the HerStory Scrapbook:

“. . . was able to provide an alternative browse interface to New York Times stories related to women’s suffrage, and the creator of the site used a number of social marketing tools to make the content available, including Twitter and Facebook.”

“Interesting and dynamic use of mainly newspaper clippings and repackaging content from another source. Would be better if it drew on multiple types of archival sources for the scrapbook, but good within its limitations.”

Here’s the nominator’s description of the project: “For the first time, The New York Times Archive as been organized by subject matter into an easy-to-use website. From 1917 – 1920, The New York Times published over 3,000 articles, letters, and editorials about the women who were fighting for, and against, suffrage. The HerStory Scrapbook includes more than 900 of the most interesting pieces, as if someone had saved clippings of the original articles from The Times in a scrapbook.

Many of the books, written by the suffragists, about the final stages of the suffrage movement focus on either the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA) led by Carrie Chapman Catt, or the National Woman’s Party founded by Alice Paul. The New York Times reported on both women. And, that makes our understanding so much richer.

The HerStory Scrapbook organizes the items from The Times in an easy-to-navigate format. The links to The New York Times open in a new browser window or a new browser tab, if your browser is set up for automatic tabbed browsing. The articles in The Times then open in another browser window or tab. To avoid opening too many windows, the next time you click on a New York Times link, the webpage will appear in the window or tab that is already open, behind the HerStory Scrapbook webpage.

In addition to an easy-to-use format, the HerStory Scrapbook provides a full-text search of the descriptions introducing each article. The advanced features on the search page include word stemming and case sensitive searching. There is also a link which allows searching of the entire New York Times’ archive. (However, full-text searching of articles is not provided by The New York Times.)

To celebrate the 90th anniversary of the Nineteenth Amendment, the HerStory 360° Challenge section includes 90 stories, published during the first 90 days of 2010, about 90 women who fought for suffrage. Each story includes links to rare source material to answer the question: “What’s Her Story?”

Congratulations to everyone who helped contribute to both these sites, and to all the winners of the Best Archives on the Web awards! Thanks again to everyone who nominated a site and to judges Christine Di Bella, Cory Nimer, Lance Stuchell, and Chela Weber.

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