New Tool Launched to Facilitate Archival Research
Search free until May 31, 2006
Did you ever wish, while sitting at your desktop and beginning a new project, that you could locate archival documents on, say, the Aswan dam, Che Guevara, Karl Popper, or the Union Pacific Railroad? Now you can do so, thanks to ArchiveGrid (located at http://www.archivegrid.org), an innovative Internet tool launched by RLG, a nonprofit organization of more than 150 research libraries, archives, museums, and other repositories. In keeping with the RLG mission of supporting “researchers and learners worldwide by expanding access to research materials,” the rapidly growing database provides access to information about archival material in thousands of locations worldwide.
Drawing upon the collection descriptions compiled by the contributing repositories, which include the small (Elgar’s Birthplace Museum or the 92nd Street Y) as well as the large (the British Library or the National Library of Australia) ArchiveGrid provides easily searchable information about millions of items, many of which might have otherwise remained hidden. Although researchers aren't able to access actual documents in most cases—the service does not aim to be a digital library—even locating a specific item is an important, if often difficult first step, and ArchiveGrid aims to make that as easy as possible. The search is indeed simple and easy. Type in “Karl Popper” into the search box, for example, and the results list will not only include the obvious, such as the Hoover Institution’s collection of Karl Popper’s papers, but also the more obscure, such as correspondence with Popper in the Grover Edward Maxwell papers located at the University of Minnesota. Similarly, typing in “Union Pacific Railroad” brings up information about the large collection at the University of Idaho as well as a single item (an 1865 letter from a surveying engineer to his aunt) at Yale University. Like a Google results list, the ArchiveGrid results pages provide URLs that take the researcher to the actual web site—in a different browser window—that contains the details about the material.
Thanks to generous foundation support, access to ArchiveGrid’s services is free to everyone until May 31, 2006, and if the support continues, access may remain free beyond that date. The design team at ArchiveGrid invites suggestions and comments from users.
© American Historical AssociationLast Updated: February 26, 2008 10:46 AM