Sunday, April 5, 2009

Arizona – Sonora Documents Online

This digital collection is hosted by University of Arizona Special Collections, and combines resources from major repositories around the state. Composed of 19th and 20th century materials, the collection documents economic, cultural, and governmental issues, including mining, land grants, the border, and others. Forms include documents, imprints and photographs. There is not a specified decision-making process. It may be that each of the three repositories involved selected all materials pertaining to this particular historical subject, or selected those which fall in line with the grant funding requirements (the collection was funded through an IMLS grant).

This seems to be a truly archival collection (with several individual collections making up the online collection). Each image is therefore part of a larger document, or group of documents.
The collection level metadata, as in an archives, is a finding aid with a historical note, a scope and contents note, and an arrangement. The arrangement, which lists each item, provides a link to the digital representation. Digital images contain little information about the actual digital object. Only the digital copyright date is listed.

On a higher level, the digitization process is summarized on the intro page. The collection was launched using CONTENTdm software. The digital objects can be searched through either a “browse” or “search” feature. Each image can be enlarged. The images were uploaded as black and white JPG files. In some cases, the quality of the image is limited, and therefore makes online viewing somewhat difficult. Many of these documents are faded and written in cursive (as seen here).

There are not many personal or family papers contained in the Arizona-Sonora Collection. The specifics of this collection, and the archival nature will likely make them usefully only to a research audience. Because of the low quality images, it may be the case that the online versions function more like a preview than an actual research experience.

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