Archives, the historical records, documents, evidence created by people, families, organizations and governments are essential for understanding our achievements and failures, our social and ethnic heritage. These resources are used to transmit our culture from one generation to the next and help us have a tangible connection to the past.
Like the people and organizations that create archives, the documentation has moved with them through their journeys across countries, and around the world. Their preservation, especially in the New World, has been both deliberate and serendipitous. And these stories, these records are scattered and dispersed across the country and around the world.
Back in the day, when I was a graduate student in American History, I had the somewhat amusing but mostly frustrating experience of trying to find archival materials to support my research on “American Geological Survey”, spending days combing through the printed volumes of the National Union Catalog of Manuscript Collections (lovingly known as NUCMC), with no cumulative index and by the way, finding very little.
ArchiveGrid.org is a service designed and developed by RLG to help serve the needs of researchers – writ large – and also to help all those archivists out there to promote access to the truly remarkable collections they have acquired and preserved over time. We are a non-profit organization dependent on the subsidy of our members and others who need and want our offerings. An angel has afforded us this year to make the service better and deliver it free to all for the next three months. We continue to seek additional support for making this exceptional tool free or cheap for institutions and individuals who need it.
I think it’s great but don’t just take my word for it see what others are saying and try it out for yourself:
Sample comments received in the past three days:
“I am impressed! A great innovation to add to the growing number of online research facilities. It is especially important to people who are unable to make regular visits overseas to have ease of access to the existence of valuable material. In one stroke this morning, using the trial package, I found a map of a city in China that no longer exists in original form, as it is below 60 metres of water. Thank you.”
“This is massively impressive.”
“I have been researching Colonel Henry Wilson since 2002. He was a veteran of the War of 1812, First Seminole War, Second Seminole War, Creek Removal, Cherokee Removal, Mexican War, Comanche Uprising, and the Utah War. He served from 1814-1861. His papers are scattered from LSU to UWF to Univ. of Florida to Fla. Hist. Soc.
I did the search on ArchiveGrid for him and WHAM! Yale also has a set of his papers. Now I can add to my research activities.”
“As I’ve just been compiling an exhibition on Vita Sackville-West I used her name as a search term and found over 40 entries, most of them directly relevant so, although I’m in England, I think the site could be a useful tool.”
“Well, I tried out archivegrid last night and I really like it. It’s much more intuitive and simpler to use than other archive catalogs or databases that are currently available.”
“I went to the site yesterday afternoon and found an important collection for a study I am doing which I did not suspect existed.”
Please share your own comments, questions, and suggestions. And watch this site for continuing news.