About the Church Farm Collection Digital Library
This digital library was created for the ECSU Archives by Kate Fuller in partial fulfillment of ILS 655, Southern Connecticut State University.
Church Farm Collection Digital Library
To provide access to photographs, land records, and personal history of the Church family of Ashford, CT to support teaching and research at Eastern Connecticut State University, local historians, and those interested in New England farming in the late 19th and early 20th century.
The scope of this online collection consists of materials located within the Church Farm family homestead in Ashford, CT, gifted to Eastern Connecticut State University in 2008. Items of most interest have been carefully selected from the primary collection and digitized. These materials consist of photographs, personal papers, land records, and a personal interview.
Organization of the Collection
The collection includes links to digitized items – photo album, land & deed records, recollections, interview – from a front collection homepage. All full-text items and metadata are searchable using the embedded search engine on the homepage.
From the links on the homepage, each section, if necessary, is divided into subsections and accessible using links (for example Church Farm Deeds & Land Records is linked to a page listing links to individual scanned records, with a brief explanation of each). The bulk of the digital collection is the family photo album. The photo album is arranged closely to how it was in its original binding, with each photograph then individually accessible in a high quality JPG format with metadata. While every effort has been made to identify photos, there are no labels or marks on the photos to definitively identify people, especially those outside the immediate Church family. The University is hoping online access will generate interest and attract local residents who can assist in identifying people.
This collection uses a modified and simplified version of Dublin Core. Because so much identifying information is missing, I used 8 Dublin Core headings – Title, Date, Subject, Description, Format, Source, Rights, and Unique Identifier (Filename) – and 1 other heading – Collection – to identify the local collection that holds these files. The Subject heading is further divided into Subject-Topic, Subject-Place, and Subject-Person, depending on the information available or gleaned from the material. The metadata is viewable with each item (i.e., not embedded in the source code), and is fully searchable using the search engine on the collection’s homepage.
Access and Use
The Atomz Site Search (http://www.atomz.com/), available on the collection’s homepage, has fully indexed the site and can be used to search for keywords in metadata and full-text documents. The site, hosted at the Archives at Eastern Connecticut State University, J. Eugene Smith Library (http://www.easternct.edu/smithlibrary/library1/archives/archives.htm) provides free and open access to this and all digital collections housed in the Archives.
Documents and photos were scanned using an Epson GT-15000 scanner. Photos were corrected using Microsoft Office Picture Manager, and were converted to JPG and reduced in size to thumbnails using FastStone Image Viewer. Notepad and ABBYY Fine Reader 5.0 were used to transcribe and perform optical character recognition, respectively. The interview was clipped and saved using Pinnacle StudioPlus v. 11. Unfortunately, this software only creates video formats that can be viewed in either Internet Explorer or Firefox, not both. As the Smith Library has issues with server space, it was decided to keep the videos in MP4 only, and inform viewers that the videos are best viewed in Firefox to preserve space on the servers. The actual site was built in Adobe Contribute. The Atomz Site Search was implemented to provide a search engine for the collection.
Users can view the photo album in its original layout as well as by individual picture. The About the Album page explains the original binding of the album and navigation of the online album. Documents can be accessed in PDF format or plain text for readability.
The digital library uses the ECSU Archives template. Individual photos from the album use a white background to eliminate “noise” or distraction. The collection title, a brief description of the collection and its history, and access points to the collection components are available on the homepage. Additional resources for the collection and their locations are identified and are accessible via the collection homepage.
Enhancement, Evaluation &/or Maintenance Plan
The Archives at Eastern Connecticut State University, J. Eugene Smith Library hopes additional items related to the collection will be donated or acquired. As these are acquired, they will be added to the collection. Additionally, the Archives anticipates that current interest in the collection from faculty and local residents will help in the identification of photographs in the collection. The staff in the Archives will monitor this site as an active online collection and will update when needed as well as receive and address feedback.