Barnard Added Value

Added Value

Much of the value this project will contribute to the manuscripts it intends to digitize takes the form of better access through the ability to conduct electronic searches; it will also include introductory material along with appropriate metadata and limited annotations. Since the goal of this project is to create a resource for advanced research rather than instruction introductory essays on the website will be devoted to providing descriptions of the provenance, content, context, and structure of the digital materials rather than interpretations. To that end the Henry Barnard Papers Digitization Project website will preface the digital collection with a concise biography of Henry Barnard which will focus on his career as a scholar of education and role within the Common School Reform Movement. Edith Nye MacMullen, who wrote a biography of Henry Barnard entitled In the Cause of True Education, will be invited to write this note, but should she decline it will be written by a historian of education from the selection committee. There will also be a “scope and content note” for the digital collection, which will give users an understanding of the materials available by describing the types of documents along with the subjects and individuals they strongly reflect. The note will also describe the keywords used to identify the topics described in particular documents so that users will be able to make better use of the search feature of the site. Links to Fales Library’s online finding aid to the physical Henry Barnard Papers as well as others to the policies and procedures employed by the digitization effort will also be available. Through these descriptions users will be able to review information regarding the source material for the digital collection and the process by which the online versions were derived from it.

Within the online collection itself each document will have a heading to provide specific metadata, including the name of its author, the date of its creation, the format of the document, and the location of the original within the physical collection. The content of the headings will be expressed to the extent possible in the standardized vocabularies developed by the Library of Congress for names and subjects. The Getty’s Art and Architecture Thesaurus will be used to denote the formats of the documents. Providing the information in this way will enable more effective searches of the collection by keeping its terminology consistent, both internally and with other humanities websites. The location of the original document will be provided as the series, box, and folder it occupies within the physical collection. If the document received an index number, as is the case with the vast majority of the correspondence, it will be identified in a separate tag within the heading as well. This metadata regarding the location of the digital surrogate’s source is intended to lend authenticity to the electronic document by clearly identifying where its information may be corroborated. It will also preserve a measure of the physical structure of the physical collection and the relationships between the documents within it. The presence of the index number will also benefit searching by maintaining the collection’s compatibility with the alphabetical index of the collection. This tool is currently the best means of accessing the largest portion of the Henry Barnard Papers, the chronologically arranged correspondence, and the few updates and corrections it needs will be made during the course of the digitization project. It also lists the authors of all the correspondence, save a small number of unidentifiable fragments, in the collection and the years in which each item was written, making it a convenient reference and providing another means of accessing specific objects within the large collection. On the digital collection’s website the index will be available as a PDF file for download.

While the much of the metadata presented in the heading and the text of the transcription will be derived from the document it describes annotations will be used to fill gaps in the metadata and explain those in the transcription. A substantial number of the letters in the Henry Barnard Papers collection lack dates but in most cases the processors of the collection were able to assign plausible years of origin. These will be provided in the heading but tagged as uncertain to lower their position in the results of a search and visually marked for users with brackets. Annotations that appear in the transcript will explain breaks in the text, such as the abrupt end of a missive due to the loss of its final page or the smearing of the original writing. These will appear as footnotes placed in the break in the text and linked to a full explanation at the bottom of the page.


The most useful benefit of digitizing the collection will not be the ancillary information provided by the metadata and annotations but the detailed searches and interlinking it makes possible. Each portion of the metadata in the heading will be hyperlinked so that clicking upon it will call up a search result page listing other documents with the same identifier. For instance clicking on the name of the author of a letter will bring up a listing of other documents written by that person. This will allow the multitude of documents included in the online collection to be grouped according to the user’s interests. Links will also be used to connect transcripts to page images of the original and, for objects with multiple pages, allow the user to proceed to the image of the next page. As an aid to navigating the website at the bottom of each webpage will provide links to each of the five main sections of the site, “Manuscripts,” “About the Project,” “About the Collection,” “How to Use This Site,” and “Contact Us.”

Searching the Site

The links provided on the site will be helpful to users but one of the easiest methods for retrieving relevant material from the collection will be through electronic searches. The site’s visitors will be able to query the collection based upon a variety of criteria, including subject keywords, authors, date, and index number. They will be able to limit their results to a particular range of dates as well as by document format, which will be selectable from a drop down menu. The website will keep a log of the searches run on the website, though the tracker will not retain any information regarding the identity of the user, so that the administrators will be able to evaluate how the collection is being used. A warning will be placed beneath the search screen along with a box that the visitor can check to disable the tracking of their search and an invitation to provide feedback to the site through the Contact Us page. For a sample of the search screen’s appearance please see below.

Search Screen:

Index Number
Limit by
Date Range
Document format (Letter, Diary, Manuscript, etc.)
For use tracking purposes this site logs the inquiries entered but does not retain any information identifying the source of the query. Click this box to disable.
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