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Archives Strengthening Historical Narrative: Sharing digital and linked data resources

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Private collections provide engaging windows into little-known subjects that, when made discoverable, are incredibly relevant to many diverse audiences. The Texas Coastal Bend Collection (TCBC) is a digital-first private collection that offers rich insight into the culture of the Texas Coastal Bend ranching communities, starting with the Irish immigration in 1834. The site’s topic-based framework immerses people in the region’s cultural history. Rich, well-structured metadata (subjects, people, places, historic events, relationships) allows every page to be a gateway for exploring over 200 artistic photographs, 9,000 images, archival documents, books, maps, genealogies, and 1,400 hours of oral history.

We describe the strategies and tools that enable rich exploration of the TCBC’s unique resources, its maintenance by a small dedicated staff, and how meaningful digital connections with other institutions can foster storytelling across an array of subjects. The digital approach that underpins the TCBC, incorporating highly structured categorization, linked data, IIIF, and a unique audio player, provides insights that can be used by other museums and archives.

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Archives Strengthening Historical Narrative: Sharing digital and linked data resources

  1. 1. Archives Strengthening Historical Narrative Sharing Digital and Linked Data Resources Mark Coffey, Alan Watts • Texas Coastal Bend Collection Duane Degler • Design for Context Museums & the Web 2018 #MW18
  2. 2. What’s unique about the Texas Coastal Bend? • The events from 1835 to the present fostered a unique culture • Pivotal times in Irish, Mexican, and American history • Isolated until the late 20th Century • Self-contained culture • Single economic focus Texas Coastal Bend Collection Archives Strengthening Historical Narrative #MW18 - 4.19.2018 Mark Coffey, Duane Degler, Alan Watts 2
  3. 3. What’s unique about the Texas Coastal Bend Collection? • A living history, a human collection, not just objects. • The stories of the people, of this culture • Digital history museum and archive, blended by design • The site themes are relevant today • Nature • Culture Texas Coastal Bend Collection Archives Strengthening Historical Narrative #MW18 - 4.19.2018 Mark Coffey, Duane Degler, Alan Watts 3 Louise O’Connor, interviewer, author, photographer Nancy O’Connor, interviewer, artist
  4. 4. What’s unique about the TCBC design and platform? • Exploratory • Make hidden histories approachable • Relationships reflected in data • Across types of content • Among people • Between people, animals, the land • Enable relationships in the future with other collections, research Texas Coastal Bend Collection Archives Strengthening Historical Narrative #MW18 - 4.19.2018 Mark Coffey, Duane Degler, Alan Watts 4 Places People Events Topics Assets Stories Cultural taxonomy
  5. 5. TOPICS | AUDIO | PEOPLE | TEXT | IMAGES | PLACES • Introduce people to the themes and history • Help people discover what to look for, how to explore the range of assets available • Layered unfolding of experience • Supports future creation of other narrative formats Texas Coastal Bend Collection Archives Strengthening Historical Narrative #MW18 - 4.19.2018 Mark Coffey, Duane Degler, Alan Watts 5
  6. 6. TOPICS | AUDIO | PEOPLE | TEXT | IMAGES | PLACES Topics Topics Sub-Topics Subjects Term Term Term Group of Subjects Subjects describe specific assets in the content Topics provide easy entry to the site’s overall focus Texas Coastal Bend Collection Archives Strengthening Historical Narrative #MW18 - 4.19.2018 Mark Coffey, Duane Degler, Alan Watts 6 External Collaborators External Vocabularies
  7. 7. TOPICS | AUDIO | PEOPLE | TEXT | IMAGES | PLACES • The most important part of the site • Storytelling • Not 1-on-1 interviews • Conversations are part of the culture • Reflection, sparking off each other • Create an environment where magic happens • Explore, or remain subject-focused • Future: Persistent audio • Allows exploration from the story catalyst Texas Coastal Bend Collection Archives Strengthening Historical Narrative #MW18 - 4.19.2018 Mark Coffey, Duane Degler, Alan Watts 7
  8. 8. TOPICS | AUDIO | PEOPLE | TEXT | IMAGES | PLACES • Portraits humanize the voices • Then discovering them throughout the site: “I know them, what they feel” • “People as portals” Texas Coastal Bend Collection Archives Strengthening Historical Narrative #MW18 - 4.19.2018 Mark Coffey, Duane Degler, Alan Watts 8 Easter on the Welder Ranch 1930’s
  9. 9. TOPICS | AUDIO | PEOPLE | TEXT | IMAGES | PLACES • Relating – books draw from oral histories • Active – use them as a launching point to other assets • Focus – exploratory filters and navigation Texas Coastal Bend Collection Archives Strengthening Historical Narrative #MW18 - 4.19.2018 Mark Coffey, Duane Degler, Alan Watts 9
  10. 10. TOPICS | AUDIO | PEOPLE | TEXT | IMAGES | PLACES • Represent the latter half of the 19thC – 20thC • Majority of images are 1920-1940s • Just as the Audio is the soundtrack to the story… Images are the visuals for narrative • Images allow stories to be non-linear • Flow is prompted by the user’s curiosity • Will be supported by persistent audio capability Texas Coastal Bend Collection Archives Strengthening Historical Narrative #MW18 - 4.19.2018 Mark Coffey, Duane Degler, Alan Watts 10
  11. 11. TOPICS | AUDIO | PEOPLE | TEXT | IMAGES | PLACES • Places anchor the people and stories in the land, in nature • The next major site addition • Places will have a similar “portal” presentation style as People • You can explore this collection laterally, via • People • Places • Events: Image galleries • Assets: Audio, Images, Text Texas Coastal Bend Collection Archives Strengthening Historical Narrative #MW18 - 4.19.2018 Mark Coffey, Duane Degler, Alan Watts 11
  12. 12. Technology: A Platform • Not just a website • Modular tools to streamline different curatorial tasks • Standards-based development • Focus on relationships – assets woven by connections with each other Texas Coastal Bend Collection Archives Strengthening Historical Narrative #MW18 - 4.19.2018 Mark Coffey, Duane Degler, Alan Watts 12
  13. 13. Archives Strengthening Historical Narrative Sharing Digital and Linked Data Resources Mark Coffey, Alan Watts • Texas Coastal Bend Collection Duane Degler • Design for Context Museums & the Web 2018 #MW18

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