Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The Massachusetts Historical Society's collection of the diaries of John Quincy Adams.

This collection is a digital representation of the entire collection of J. Q. Adams' diaries. He kept three simultaneously: a one-line diary (denoted "short"), a rough draft, and the final draft (denoted "long"), all of which are digitized. The site is somewhat curated as it does not allow searching of the text, but provides browsing by themes. The site states that "though every page is digitized, there is a curated selection of pages divided by people, events, topics, places, and career highlights." There is a slight attempt at a movement that might be in the direction of 2.0 with a link at the bottom of the front page to an "online feedback form." I was disappointed when I realized it said "form" and not "forum," which I believe would add tremendous value to the site.

The user is allowed to search by date, browse by volume (all 51 of them), or to browse a timeline based on the events recorded in the diaries. Specific dates (such as his inauguration) and "selected pages" from the diaries are highlighted for researchers.

The metadata is standardized but skimpy. Each digital page has a footer containing information regarding the physical diary and ownership, a persistent link, and credits to MHS and the digitization date.

The zoom function is powerful but does not offer much in the way of research beyond reading the text. The zoomed image is a JPEG and offers some unsightly but practical copyright information.

Page one of the long entry the day of Adams' inauguration.

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