Archive Review and Comparison by T. Hamilton

The Black History Archives of Mid-America in Kansas City: http://www.blackarchives.org/

The Aims: The aim of the Black Archives of Mid-America is to collect and preserve the history of African-Americans in the Midwest area and make this information available for both scholarly research and to provide information to anyone wishing a deeper understanding of African-American history. Topics covered include public materials relative to documenting the social, economic, political and cultural histories of persons of African descent in the central United States. Areas of emphasis include the Kansas City, Missouri region.

The Audience: Scholars and the general public. “Black Archives of Mid-America is an educational resource and provides access to its collections for research, exhibition and publication to honor our community heritage and to catalyze public awareness.”

Search Tools and Capabilities: There is a basic keyword search and a more extensive advanced search feature. The “More Options” feature provides a self-guided search with suggested categories listed.

The Manner in Which Documents are Displayed: All categories and sub-categories are clear. Items are clearly labeled with substantial information available. Everything loads quickly and the layout of pages is simple and well-spaced. The Collections and Articles sections are clear and easy to navigate. Each section is clearly divided into categories. For examples, Collections contained category links such as Arts and Culture, Civil Rights, Religion, Politics & Government. With these categories are letters and photos and other items. The quality of the items, such as letters and photographs, is excellent but I could not locate an enlargement feature.

Confidence in the Transcriptions/Images and Surrounding Materials: After reviewing several items, I have confidence in the transcriptions/images and surrounding materials. Information is complete and clearly laid out relative to each item. The item descriptions are concise.

The King Center: http://www.thekingcenter.org/archive

The Aims: This archive website was established in 1968 by Coretta Scott King, wife of Martin Luther King, Jr. and their Center for Non-Violent Social Change (better known as “The King Center”). For many years it has provided the world with information, resources and historical items and the center says that as many as a million people use the site annually.

The Audience: The audience is the world and anyone interested in learning more about the legacy of Dr. King and his work. The center believes that Dr. King’s legacy, when made available to the public, will continue to inspire social change.

Search Tools and Capabilities: The Archive section consists of a dropdown menu. You can either go directly to the archive and search for data on your own. In the archive drop down is a link to “Browse the Archive”. The layout is strange but interesting and it is cluttered. In the archive section, there is a collage of items and if you hover over any of them, a pop-up window provides information. Clicking anywhere in the pop-up window takes you directly to the item, where you can see the item and find all relative information.

The Manner in Which Documents are Displayed: The quality and clarity of most of the items that I reviewed is outstanding. Each item contains a built-in slide tool to easily enlarge the items for a better view. This is extremely convenient. Even though the archive homepage appears crowded, it is very each to navigate. There is also a section on the archive page called “Spotlights”, which allows another guided level for searching.

Confidence in the Transcriptions/Images and Surrounding Materials: After reviewing several items, I have confidence in the transcriptions/images and surrounding materials. Information is complete and clearly laid out relative to each item. The item descriptions are concise but not much paragraph-style information is provided.

COMPARISON OF BOTH ARCHIVES

I liked the crisp, clean look of the Black History Archives of Mid-America better than the collage-style of the King archive. I also liked the way in which information was presented on the Black History Archives of Mid-America site. I felt that both sites, although different, provided good features and were extensive. I liked many of the built-in features on the King site, such as the enlargement slide tool.

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