Chicago Historical Society - The Haymarket Digital Collection
The Chicago Historical Society decided to put together a digital collection that focused on a major event that occurred in the 19th century that redefined labor laws and established a political divide within the psyches of the American population: The Haymarket Riots of 1886.
The Chicago Historical Society thoughtfully provides an article about their selection criteria for digitizing the material for this collection. First and foremost the creators of this digital collection determined to establish the boundaries of this collection to consist of primary documents that stemmed from the Haymarket Riots. The Chicago Historical Society already had a large collection of primary materials. Then they decided take an inclusive approach by digitizing most of the material, however as the bulk of their collection are the 3. 323 page transcript of the witness testimony and cross examination in the trial and the accompanying evidence books. Since there was a lot of material within that pile of documents, they decided to only the material concerning the twelve candidates chosen to serve on the jury along with the text of discussion that arose during the trial to showcase the procedure and law. The creators of the digital collection also wanted the project to display a series of events and the fallout that occurred afterwards.
The metadata is rather scanty in this project. Each image is scanned beautifully and comes in with a zoom in feature and a higher resolution option; however only the basic metadata (not any kind of schema is observed) is included: the format, the measurements, the creator/s, date of publication, all of which is presented in a more of a "bibliographic" format. Search features are almost non-existent in this collection. The collection is grouped by types of documents, for example, broadsides or trial documents. There is a table of contents that lists the materials within the collection, but no keyword searches or any other method of information retrieval, other than scrolling down and clicking on the title of a collection and going through each "exhibit" until you find the one you want.
Despite the ineptitude of the search and metadata, the contents of the collections are quite interesting. The Chicago Historical Society has done a great job in procuring primary documents and other material to convey the events of the Haymarket Riot. The collection consists of broadsides, artifacts (banners, revolvers used by the police during the riot), phamplets, photographs, trial documents, prints, and letters and manuscripts written by those who were involved in the melee of the Haymarket Riot.
The intended audience is directly stated by the Chicago Historical Society: "in digitizing its collections the Chicago Historical Society seeks to make the primary materials of history available to the widest possible audience." With that being said, I believe this collection targets academia, more specifically history majors and maybe even high school students, with the intent of showing the usefulness of primary material research.