Friday, April 17, 2009

Mystic Seaport: The Museum of America and the Sea

The Mystic Seaport Museum is dedicated to the history of America's realtionship with the sea and inland waterways. I was very impressed with this site because I have a longtime fascination with boats and sailing. Their collection represents over 75 year's worth of acquisitions. There are indexes of ship registries, in addition to other useful finding aids. This is the website of what appears to be a very active physical museum. As such, it is ably and actively curated. In fact, they are adding new digitzed images to their online offerings on a weekly basis. This would indicate that the museum is engaged in ongoing digitization efforts. The museum's site offers an array of information regarding their collections, and also included digitized materials.

The Mystic Seaport Museum links to the the Rosenfield Collection, the largest collection of maritime images in the country. This collection includes nearly one million photographs from 1881 to 1992. Many of the images have been digitized and are searchable. Metadata included with a retrieved image includes accession number, title, category, size, date created, and a curated description explaining exactly what is in the image. The images themselves are jpegs and are enlargeable as well. The collection offers visitors the chance to purchase prints of these materials as well. This is a very good, very well organized collection. The intended audience for this collection, as presented, appears to be serious researchers. There are instructions regarding the hourly hiring of in-house research staff to answer specific queries. It would be of substantial worth to persons seeking images to illustrate a book, researching ship designs, or basically doing any kind of research that has to do with the history of sailing vessels in America. It is clear that much of the materials offered by this collection have yet to go digital, but it seems to be a good digitization effort.

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