Using the Archive
The Seward Family Digital Archive is built to allow visitors the flexibility to follow their own research interests. Visitors may explore the site via our “Search” and “Advanced Search” functions. Visitors can read images chronologically, by sender, or recipient. Ultimately, though, viewers chart their own website experience. Once an item is selected, readers can find people places, and literature identified within the text. Transcriptions of the materials appear alongside the digital images of the manuscript items. Our transcription and TEI processes allow both the image and transcription of the specified document to be viewed alongside one another.
The architecture of sewardproject.org supports in-depth historical exploration. By clicking on bold items readers can access more information about the people, places, and literature referenced in the manuscript. From there readers have the option to view more information provided on the Drupal database or view other letters or materials that reference those individuals and/or literature.
Student involvement is also a main feature of the site. Viewers can explore the course syllabi that are the foundation of sewardproject.org as well as a sampling of student projects that grew from the manuscript materials.
TEI, or Text Encoding Initiative, allows researchers to dynamically search through the letters based on the letter’s sender, recipient, and/or contained text. Both team members and students in the courses learn the coding skills necessary to digitally annotate key persons and places found within the manuscript. TEI enhances the organization of this large collection and allows users to sort materials most important to them. In addition, these digital annotations allow researchers to closely comb through individual manuscript items or examine large-scale trends in communication, travel, and family experience. Ultimately, TEI gives visitors to the website the flexibility to follow their research interests in dynamic ways.