Post 2: Digital Archives

Each of the three online history archives provide different forms of different information surrounding several important topics.  The Darwin Correspondence was first founded in 1974, and since then has grown out from its main location of Cambridge University.  It is a compilation of all the letters written to and by Darwin during his lifetime.  The website organizes the letters in a way so that they can be searched by topic or author.  Brief commentaries are also provided by the project contributors, along with learning material for people of all ages.  This website does not restrict itself to only people with a history background, showing the importance they have for the contents of the letters.  For historians, this database allows a quick search through letters on specific topics that could potentially be relevant to one’s research.  This makes it an extremely useful tool since a historian can easily find what he or she needs while also not having to struggle with sifting through large amounts of texts.

Ancestry shows many differences from the Darwin Project.  The most notable one of that is the extreme limitation of having to pay in order to access the vast majority of information in their archive.  This is a big deterrent for people who are looking for information, both historians and non historians.  As opposed to the Darwin project, Ancestry does not show the creators/compilers of the content within the archive.  This hurts the legitimacy of the content, for one can not learn accurately who and how it is being compiled.  For example, I searched, using their free option, for my ancestors who I know existed, and was a significant person in Canadian history, Col. John Butler.  The results I did find were mostly pictures of modern landmarks, like his burial spot, while providing no content whatsoever on him as a person.  Ancestry confuses me with what they are trying to be.  There are advertisements on the main page about DNA testing and building your family tree.  However, there is no way for me to see the legitimacy of it without paying.  From my perspective I would rather to the research for free myself, from sources I can trust, rather than pay to trust Ancestry.

Ancestry Search

Here is an example of the search results on ancestry.

The Medici Archive Project felt a lot more similar to the Darwin Project.  It provided the names of the contributors, along with their credentials.  The situation that this project appears to be in is an earlier stage than the Darwin Project.  The website states that all of the collections of the Medici Project will be accessible online, just like Darwin’s.  Currently the online portion does not have tons to offer, but, the promise appears to have great potential.  For historians this could be a valuable resource, to have access anywhere online.

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