Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The Manuscripts and Documents of the Ohio Company of Associates

The Manuscripts and Documents of the Ohio Company of Associates digital collection is a result of a Save America's Treasures grant awarded to Marietta College, Ohio, from the National Park Service in 2000. The collection contains materials related to the settlement of Ohio and the Old Northwest Territory by Revolutionary War-era officers through the Ohio Company of Associates. Marietta College has identified approximately 3000 items related to establishing the organized settlement of the area, and have conserved and digitized about 900 items as part of the NPS project. The other items were catalogued and preserved in their special collections of the Marietta College Library. The project began with identification of materials in 2000-2001 and ended with uploading the metadata and documents to the OhioLINK's Digital Resource Commons.

The digitized collection is arranged in four series: Business Records; Correspondence; Surveyor's Field Notes; and Maps, Plats, and Drawings. From the collection's homepage, one can perform a full text search or browse a limited number of items by creator or subject. No indication is given of why the specific browse categories were chosen. The "Find a Document" navigation tab also lists three finding aids in PDF to further help locate an item. Extensive information about the project and contributors; and historical background bibliography, biographies of major figures, and historical information is also available at the site. Curriculum resources for educators are also under development according to the site.

Using the search function takes the user to a standard digital resource interface using DSpace. Customization is limited, therefore, but most information needed by researchers is present. Thumbnails give previews when browsing the list of items and limited descriptive data. Left navigation allows users reorganize the list of items by title, author, etc. The images have full Zoomify controls and individual JPEGs are listed for downloading. Metadata on the initial item page is limited to title, author, description, URI, and date. The full item record has item description data, as well as administrative data. No technical information appears available.

A well-done, useful, resource over all, but not one that is particularly exciting to use.

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