The Darwin correspondence project is a very useful tool for understanding the life’s work of Charles Darwin from middle school level to graduate studies and research. It offers a wide range of original sources (or scans thereof) about his communications up to 1872. The archive not only provides a lot of information but makes it simple to browse and access whether it be by author, keyword, topic or keyword. Each correspondence can be filtered further by adding more details such as address and document type making looking for a specific source quite simple. The drawback of this project however is that it is funded and controlled by Cambridge University, a private organisation and while I personally believe that the sources are most likely to be legitimate it does mean they have the control over the story will be explored and in which light the readers will see the source(s).
Personally, I would consider Ancestry.ca to be closer to a genetic database than an archive. They ultimately are in a constant process of enlarging their records by collecting and storing DNA. This is then comparing your own DNA and in turn then used to search for any connections to you, the paying client. By determining your ethnicity and any relations you might have across the globe. This could be of great interest for people who are interested in their own personal history and ethnicity but because this remains a new project I feel its efficacy has yet to come into full effect… If like me, you have played any of the old Assassin’s creed games this project might make rise an eyebrow. Its not always a great idea to hand confidential information which can easily identify you for private companies to then use as part of their network may in time be a cause for concern especially in this time of security breaches and data breaches.
The Medici Archive was originally to be a mass digitization and online storage of some 6429 volumes of letters and sources from 1537 to 1743 of Tuscany and Europe but turned out to be much more than that. Today the online archive is one of the largest of its kind and has helped many researchers of various fields by providing sources and documentation to help further them into their field. It has also grown into an online institution as it provides online courses with new and “unpublished” materials. One of the few drawbacks of this archive is that it can get a bit overwhelming with the sheer number of sources unless you are looking for about specific topic. I have also found the site the be slow at times (at least during my use) and takes time to load every page.
Overall, I believe that online digital archives are a great tool for preservation and accessibility to sources and brings great benefits when sharing knowledge online overcoming distances and time zones and greatly reducing the costs of research. While there will be a slight loss of “human touch” on future research papers and that these archives will rarely be able to have all the information researchers and students need for their papers they can be of great use as a starting point and pointers to relating topics.
The amount of information at our fingertips is as close to infinite as it has ever been before