Interface Usability


The Power of Metadata: Readex and the Territorial Papers of the United States

Earlier this year Readex published the Territorial Papers of the United States, 1764-1953, the most important early American content not yet digitized—until now.

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More than half of America’s states began as territories. From the 1760s to the 1950s the United States of America expanded southward and westward, acquiring territories that spanned from Florida to California to Alaska. Before they evolved into twenty-seven American states, these territories were managed by the U.S. State and Interior departments. The official history of their formative territorial years is recorded in Territorial Papers of the United States—a collection of Native American negotiations and treaties, official correspondence with the federal government, military records, judicial proceedings, population data, financial statistics, land records, and more.

About two thirds of these documents are in manuscript form. This means they cannot be made full-text searchable through the application of Optical Character Recognition (“OCR”) technologies. Yes, there are technologies today that can do a fairly decent job applying OCR to certain types of manuscripts, but the handwriting needs to be very clear, and extremely uniform, for the technology to work at all, and even then the results don’t match the quality that can be achieved from printed (as opposed to manuscript) documents.

The documents in Territorial Papers of the United States are from many time periods and in many handwritings, making them poor candidates for OCR application.

The Power of Metadata: Readex and the Territorial Papers of the United States

Announcing “Suggested Searches”: A New Feature in Twentieth-Century Global Perspectives

Cold War for Suggested Searches.JPGEarlier this year Readex launched a new suite of online resources on the crucial issues that shaped the post-World War II world. The suite is titled Twentieth-Century Global Perspectives and includes collections covering apartheid, the Cold War, migrations and refugees, race relations in the United States, and more. The content—from the archives of the C.I.A. and available nowhere else in fully searchable form—includes translated radio broadcasts, foreign-government reports, journal articles, television transcripts, and news items of various kinds.

Each of these primary source collections provides students and scholars with perspectives from outside of the United States. Such views are crucial to the proper understanding of world issues and shed enormous light on how nations across the globe responded to emerging matters of geo-political importance.

Over the past six months Readex has received requests from users to provide “pathways” into the content that enable deep research on key themes and topics.

Announcing “Suggested Searches”: A New Feature in Twentieth-Century Global Perspectives

“Beware of Imposters and Sharpers” and Other Advice for Civil War Soldiers and Surgeons

The January release of The American Civil War Collection, 1860-1922: From the American Antiquarian Society contains works providing advice to discharged soldiers returning home, guidance on potential pension benefits, and instructions to surgeons on the changing use of anesthetics. Also included is a brilliantly illustrated biography of Robert E. Lee.

The Soldiers' Guide in Philadelphia (1861)
Published for gratuitous distribution by Robert R. Corson

This nifty city guide for soldiers includes railroad timetables as well as other pertinent information. Its “Instructions for Discharged Soldiers” provides rates of travel pay in addition to pension amounts for certain veterans and rates of survivors’ benefits for the heirs of deceased soldiers. It also gives special instructions to disabled veterans, directing them to the Citizens’ Volunteer Hospital where they will receive:

…every attention that kindness and medical aid can suggest, for the alleviation of their sufferings. Those soldiers who can bear transportation to other hospitals are carefully taken thither in the ambulances provided by the various Fire Companies of the city.

Advice is also tendered to those traveling beyond Philadelphia:

“Beware of Imposters and Sharpers” and Other Advice for Civil War Soldiers and Surgeons

Top-Ten Articles Published in The Readex Report

The Readex Report is a quarterly e-newsletter that explores diverse aspects of both modern librarianship and digital historical collections. Through original articles by academic faculty and librarians, The Readex Report provides insights on topics as wide-ranging as those found in the following list of the most clicked-upon articles published since 2006. Preserving the Library in the Digital Age

By Benjamin L. Carp, Assistant Professor of History, Tufts University [Volume 4, Issue 4]

Heart or Muscle? The Library in the Digital Age

By Edward Shephard, State University of New York, Binghamton [Volume 4, Issue 3]

“Meet the Students”: Bringing Your Library’s Online Resources Into Your Students’ “Circle of Trust”

By Lynn D. Lampert, Chair, Reference & Instructional Services, California State University, Northridge [Volume 2, Issue 2]

Top-Ten Articles Published in The Readex Report

America's Historical Newspapers reviewed in new issue of Journal of American History

The September 2010 issue of the Journal of American History—the quarterly journal of the Organization of American Historians—features this review of America's Historical Newspapers

America's Historical Newspapers reviewed in new issue of Journal of American History

The Charleston Advisor awards Early American Newspapers 4.75 stars

The April 2010 issue of The Charleston Advisor includes a two-page review of America's Historical Newspapers by Providence College librarian Janice Schuster. Focusing on Early American Newspapers, Series 1 to 7, 1690-1922, The Charleston Advisor awarded this collection its highest ranking in the categories of Content, Searchability and Contract Options. Here’s an excerpt:
"The initial search screen makes it very clear which searching options are available. One can immediately start searching using the Google-like search box and the drop-down menu of searching options, including Headline, Standard Title (i.e., publication title), and Title as published....The results list includes a wealth of information for each item, including title of publication; publication date; published as; location; headline, and article type....The results list also includes a thumbnail image (actually larger than a thumbnail) of a portion of the article. This facilitates research by making it easy to browse through and eliminate irrelevant items....
The Charleston Advisor awards Early American Newspapers 4.75 stars

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