Fashion-Focused Digital Resources: ArchiveGrid

Following up on Jaclyn’s recent post highlighting the European Archives Hub, ArchiveGrid is a searchable database of archival collections in the U.S. It is maintained by OCLC, the research organization that provides the global library catalog Worldcat. As described by OCLC:

ArchiveGrid includes over four million records describing archival materials, bringing together information about historical documents, personal papers, family histories, and more. With over 1,000 different archival institutions represented, ArchiveGrid helps researchers looking for primary source materials held in archives, libraries, museums and historical societies.

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Researchers can browse a map by zip code to find research institutions nearby, or search by general keyword or within a number of fields including personal names, topics, and events. Advanced searching requires a little finesse using boolean logic and index names. For example, if you want to find collections that have been labeled with the topic, “department store,” you would enter “topic:department store” (no space between the colon and the term or phrase) into the keyword field. The site provides instructions on “How to Search“; click the link “Metadata types” to reveal other indices. Once you open a record with an applicable topic, you can click a controlled heading on the right-hand side of the screen to learn more. As you browse, save collections that interest you to your “shopping cart.”

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The “summary view” for institutions, as shown above, gives a succinctly presented overview of any one library or archive’s collections. Some repositories have linked their finding aids to ArchiveGrid, and keep their “Contact Information” link updated. When libraries have not specified any contact information, the “Contact” button simply launches a Google search of the institution name. If there’s one tip I could provide researchers seeking access to archives, it’s to definitely call first! You don’t want to spend money and time on traveling to an archive that you won’t be allowed to see the inside of.

I’d also love to see ArchiveGrid add information about collection-specific research grants for institutions that offer them. ArchiveGrid is currently in beta and likely doesn’t have extensive financial resources behind it, yet it’s an unmatched resource and a great starting point for primary research in the States.

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