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HIS 356: Modern South Asia: Organization and Structure

Know How To Navigate

Physical archives will follow an organizational scheme that utilizes both guiding archival principles as well as local/immediate concerns (ie, the nature of the space, the building, the objects collected, as well as the age and overall size).

Finding your way through a seemingly vast mass of items and artifacts requires some sort of guide.  Archives generally have a finding aid that will demonstrate the existing organization of the collection.  These may include cross-references to related works.

Moving To Digital

A digital archive will sometimes simply digitize the print finding aide and reproduce the existing organizational structure. Looking for a letter that is kept in Box 21387 on Shelf 87A?  Here is the digital scan of that letter from this same box and shelf.  

Others have taken the opportunity to utilize various digital tools on their platforms to create a new method of searching (usually by assigned keywords), limiting results by object/material type, creation dates, geographies, authors, or even [assigned] subject headings.

Filters can be used to narrow results and hyperlinks are included to jump between various associations. 

Do The Tools Help?

What types of tools do you see in these products?  Are there filters, search boxes, collection groupings?

What can you tell about the organization of these archives by looking at the tools?

Do Not Limit Youself To These Tools

What drawbacks can you see about using only the organizational/browsing tools?

Why could these undermine your efforts?