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Inside the Archives – Fall 2015 – Volume IV Number 2

Inside the Archives

Fall 2015
Volume IV. Number 2.

Accessible Archives – Interface and Navigation Changes

 This year Accessible Archives embarked on a project to upgrade our interface and navigation capabilities.  To this end we conducted a survey of some 14 libraries of all types – plus three consultants close to the library and information science industry – regarding the feasibility of our search interface.   It has been an ongoing process as we interviewed a cross-section of librarians – both from schools with annual subscriptions and those with permanent access to the collections – to learn what they liked and didn’t like about it, and received a large amount of valuable input.  Four members of the interview group then agreed to support us further as part of an informal Advisory Board as we worked to make enhancements to our service.  We would like to thank:

  • Scott R. Anderson – Associate Professor, Information Systems Librarian, Millersville University, PA
  • Clinton Baugess – Reference and Instruction Librarian, Gettysburg College, PA
  • Jane Hutton – Associate Professor, Electronic Resources Librarian, West Chester University, PA
  • Terry Simpkins – Director, Discovery and Access Services, Middlebury College, VT

 We now have completed a major analysis of our product feature-set, and through the close of the year and beyond we will be deciding on a further group of changes to deliver an even better user experience.  This entire project was coordinated by Unlimited Priorities LLC, a firm specializing in support for small and medium-size companies in the information and publishing industries, and whose Archival Initiatives Division (AID) provides support services to the library and archives communities.  Unlimited Priorities is the exclusive sales and marketing representative for Accessible Archives.

We are excited to update you on the navigation and presentation enhancements made to date to the Accessible Archives interface and functionality.  We take our customers’ questions and corrections very seriously, and we invite you to comment on any of the changes and upgrades we have made.

Searching subscribed content directly from the product description pages

We have added a Browse and Search button for users with IP access that launches a new tab/window directly to the specified collection.  Users who review our Collection information and other marketing materials can now quickly move to the search screen:

Interface and Navigation Changes

Interface and Navigation Changes

Helping users recognize and understand the content they are selecting and searching

We have made several connected changes to the visual aspects of Accessible Archives.  Most noticeably we have given each of our Collections a distinctive subject icon which is displayed when users browse titles and review search results.

Collection Indicators

Collection Indicators

In addition, we have provided mouse-over descriptive text to provide context for each Collection:

Mouse Over Information

Mouse Over Information

Providing more helpful results messages

Nobody wants a flood of search results but when large results sets are generated it is good to know what is happening and we have ensured that our on screen messages are as helpful as possible.  For example, a search resulting in an inordinate number of hits will generate the following message:

11888 is too many documents to format in a result list.  Formatting the 200 most relevant for display. (Please consider narrowing your search criteria.)

Redesigning the look and feel

We have made a set of generally subtle updates to the look and feel of the Accessible Archives interface to bring it into line with our marketing livery and to freshen up some of the design elements

The first thing to notice is that the screen background is now white. We had grown rather attached to the parchment background, but our research showed a strong preference for a simple, clean approach and we think the new design works well

We have also tightened up the design components and the layout to work with different screen sizes and resolutions – this ensures that even on the largest displays the interface will fill the screen and use the available real estate effectively.


We have created an entirely new area in the interface specifically for library administrators – away from the search area. This is where we provide support and deliver account information. A direct link from the main menu bar provides access to:

  • Accessible Archives recorded account contact information
  • access to downloadable MARC records
  • announcement details, e.g. about product updates
  • annual maintenance fee dates for customers with permanent access
  • begin and end dates for customers with annual subscriptions
  • branding indication
  • the COUNTER site via log-in to COUNTER
  • IP range definitions
  • Username/password login definitions
Administrator Login

Administrator Login

Remove unnecessary clutter

 We removed Announcements from the search interface, and also removed the Site Map button from the menu bar.  At the same time we instituted some general housekeeping methodologies to update the accuracy levels.


We have created a new place for product and other announcements, such as Webinar dates, new MARC records availability, etc.

Search response time

In order to increase search speed we have updated the public domain software packages upon which the Accessible Interface and functionality is built and embarked on application changes to enhance our interface.  The underlying software packages that were upgraded to the latest stable versions include Apache, Java Dev Kit, Tomcat (Java Server Pages), Lucene search engine software, Shibboleth and ActiveState Perl.

In addition, the server hardware was significantly upgraded and newer server software (operating system Windows 2012) was implemented by our service provider. Future changes will continue the upgrading of our Public Domain software package base to newer stable versions and both server hardware and server operating system upgrades as needed.

Improved Navigation

We improved navigation between the product (Search) and marketing (Collections) pages by:

  • Adding a Search Database button to the product description bar
Search Databases

Search Databases

  • Opening a new tab when the user moves from marketing to product pages, and vice-versa
  • Clarifying what the search box on the marketing screens actually searches by re-wording the explanatory text
Search Box

Search Box

  • Re-naming Previous Document/Next Document links to Previous Result/Next Result in order to avoid confusion when going to the next search result instead of the next page of the current result – or vice-versa.
Previous - Next Result

Previous – Next Result

Godey’s Lady’s Book

Godeys Ladys BookWe have made several fixes and enhancements to our Godey’s Lady’s Book product based on user feedback and comments.  In particular, we were informed that we were missing some thumbnail images that should appear in articles when the article is displayed.  And, some thumbnail images linked to an incorrect (larger) cropped image that displays when the thumbnail image is clicked or the cropped image was simply missing when the thumbnail was clicked.  These issues have been resolved.

In addition, users wanted the issue page images for the years 1830 through 1885 made available (they were already available for the years 1886 through 1898).  Issue page images for the years 1831 through 1885 have been added.  Other enhancements are forthcoming.  As a reminder, our collection is the only one that contains all the color plates.


 Several Webinars are conducted each month, highlighting recent updates to our collections and search tools.  General webinars provide an introduction to and an overview of our databases.  Subject-specific webinars focusing on particular areas of history such as the Revolution, the Civil War, Women’s History, etc., are under development.

Collection Updates

Frank Leslie’s Weekly

Frank Leslies WeeklyThis collection has been completed with both images and keyed text now available.  Generous pre-publication pricing still is available, but will expire at the end of 2015.

 Now students, faculty and teachers, historians and researchers, using Frank Leslie’s Weekly, can trace the development of America in the Nineteenth and early Twentieth centuries. Researchers interested in popular culture will find unique information covering every phase of America’s evolution for more than 70 years. Because more than 80 percent of the material in Frank Leslie’s has never been reprinted or anthologized, this collection creates endless possibilities for new and more thorough research.

A diverse variety of writers published their stories in Frank Leslie’s Weekly, including Louisa May Alcott, H. Irving Hancock, Helen R. Martin and Ellis Parker Butler. In addition, several notable illustrators worked for the publication, including Albert Berghaus, Norman Rockwell – who created covers for the magazine in its latter years – and Fernando Miranda y Casellas.

Unquestionably, this digital collection illuminates numerous aspects of American life, but its relevance is not confined to the past. Frank Leslie’s Weekly chronicles the nation heading into the catastrophic conflict between North and South, the postwar growth of industry and the rise of cities, and the movement westward. Frank Leslie’s records American popular culture, unlocking the immediate past so scholars can examine the nation’s history, helping us better to understand our present concerns and issues.

National Anti-Slavery Standard

National Anti-Slavery StandardThis collection is nearing completion, and both images and keyed text will be available in December.  Generous pre-publication pricing still is available, but will expire at the end of 2015.

American County Histories.

This collection continues to expand, with three regions now complete: Southeast, Southwest and West. American County Histories We are processing a massive number of books in the Central and Midwest, and these regions are scheduled for completion by mid-2016.  In addition, we have located and are adding large numbers of books to the Mid-Atlantic and New England regions.

Pre-publication pricing remains available in a number of these areas.


Charleston Conference

Frances Marion Hotel, Table 19 Frances Marion Hotel, Table 19

Boston Convention Center, Booth 1645

Boston Convention Center, Booth 1645

Download Newsletter

Download Newsletter (PDF)

Back Issues

Back Issues

Inside the Archives – Spring 2015 – Volume IV Number 1

Inside the Archives

Spring 2015
Volume IV. Number 1.



In our constant striving for excellence we review our current collections on a regular basis.  During one such review we uncovered additional text and images for PROVINCIAL FREEMAN, one of seven newspapers comprising African American Newspapers: The 19th Century.  We have added these materials to the collection, providing them at no additional cost to our customers.


 Accessible Archives recently signed an agreement with the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library in Springfield, Illinois to preserve in digital format a number of primary source collections relating to President Lincoln and the State of Illinois.  Once the materials have been digitized and made fully searchable, they will be available to genealogists, scholars, professors, students, and those studying historical issues of personal interest as new databases by Accessible Archives.  This collaboration was coordinated through Unlimited Priorities LLC.


The first collection from the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library to be made available through Accessible Archives is Part VII of our Civil War collection: Abraham Lincoln Library Abolitionist BooksThis unique collection brings together a disparate group of abolitionist era reference materials.  Ranging from memoirs to speeches, biographies to essays, sermons to proceedings minutes, these publications provide the user an intimate insight into the social, political and religious natures of those contentious times. The diversity of the materials allows the user to access information reflecting both points of view on the abolition of slavery.


Inside the Archives

Inside the Archives – November 2014 – Volume III Number 4

November 2014
Volume III. Number 4.


As we move toward the close of 2014, with Thanksgiving on the horizon and Christmas just a few weeks away, Accessible Archives’ END-OF-YEAR SALE still is going strong. From The Revolution through the African American Experience and Civil War to Women’s History and beyond, individual and packaged collections are available at very special prices.  Whether you’re looking at individual permanent access or prefer an annual subscription to our complete collections, please contact us with your interests and we will be happy to review all options with you.

Frank Leslie’s Weekly — We continue to load keyed content onto the website, with a completion goal of early 2015.  As we remain in pre-publication mode, special pricing still is available.  Whether your interest lies with the complete collection or just in specific areas – The Civil War or World War I, for example – we are offering extremely favorable terms.

National Anti-Slavery Standard — While complete page images are already on the website, as are those for Frank Leslie’s weekly, the number of keyed issues increases on a regular basis.  Again, pre-publication pricing is in effect, with a very special offer for those who own the Standard’s sister publication, The Liberator from any source.  Please contact us and we’ll be happy to fill you in on the details.

Thanksgiving is fast approaching, and we’re  “talking turkey”! 


Inside the Archives

Inside the Archives – August 2014 – Volume III Number 3

August 2014
Volume III. Number 3.

In this Issue


Bethune-Cookman UniversityBethune-Cookman University, Daytona Beach, Florida was the winner of the raffle drawing conducted in the Accessible Archives exhibit booth at the ALA Annual Conference held this past June in Las Vegas, Nevada. The Carl S. Swisher Learning Resources Center will receive a one-year subscription to the complete collection of seventeen databases containing archival materials from 18th and 19th century America. Helen Morey, Collection Development/Acquisitions Librarian, was delighted at the prospect of having access to Accessible Archives’ database collection. She said, “We are excited to be able to offer these historic databases to our faculty and students during the next academic year. We were looking to add additional primary resource materials to our electronic resources collection and this wonderful gift of a free one year subscription comes at just the right time. The scope and span of the collections is impressive, and we know our users will be able to find content that otherwise would not be available to them.”


We’re always pleased to hear about public library patron usage of our databases, particularly when it involves searching our extensive American County Histories collection. Elizabeth Cronin, Information Services Coordinator at Ocean County Public Library in Toms River, New Jersey passed along the following tidbits:

“A patron came in researching a “founding family” of Ocean County. We showed him he could get to American County Histories, Pennsylvania Gazette, etc. through Accessible Archives. He left extremely pleased that he could use it all at home through remote access rather than having to use our databases on site, as he lives more than 20 miles away. We’re a large county and many of our patrons live even further from the library.”

“A graduate student was researching the history of the tanning industry in Delaware. Not a topic we had much or anything on at all as a New Jersey public library. She had basic information, but needed information specific to Delaware. A search in American County Histories for Delaware using three keywords – tanning, tanneries, tannery – yielded more than twenty hits, most of which told of a local person establishing a tannery. She was very happy because the information gave her several ideas of where to look next.”

Godey's Lady's BookGodey’s Lady’s Book also gets a lot of play at the library:

“A member of our local genealogy society was working on a scrapbook page for one of her 19th century female relatives. She needed images of women at different points in their lives. She wanted to start with weddings. When I showed her the way to limit results by image type, and we figured out that we should search for ‘bridal dress’ as well as separate searches for ‘wedding’, she said she was going to have a lot of fun.”

“A woman from the local history society was working on an exhibit on women in the late 19th century. She was very happy when I showed her Godey’s Lady’s Book. When I told her that this is the Ladies Home Journal, Vogue, Atlantic and more combined for the bright American woman of the 19th century, she got it. She also loved the fashion engravings since they are also very interested in clothing and costume.”


Sally Helvenston Gray, Associate Professor at Michigan State University, asked if it was possible to secure a high resolution image from Godey’s Lady’s Book to use in a scholarly publication. Her article “Short Report: The Shawl-Patterned Gown” will be published in DRESS, the journal of the Costume Society of America (Vol. 42 no. 2) to be out in October of this year. We were able to enhance the requested image for publication, and Sally deemed the result as excellent.

She went on to say: “My library doesn’t have this issue of Godey’s so it is very helpful to be able to access the complete set online. I can tell you from experience how difficult it is to find the library that owns a particular volume and then go through the process of purchasing rights to use the image for publication. I’m looking forward to seeing the article in print. By the way, I have seen at least one other article that has used an Accessible Archives image. I’m not sure how often this occurs, but it is really a help.”

Thanks, Sally, we were happy to assist your publishing effort. Site Images often can be enhanced, and may be used for publication as long as a citation is included referencing Accessible Archives.


We received a request from Charlene Harvell at the New Bern Historical Society in New Bern, North Carolina for a different kind of use for an image from a book in our Civil War collection. The society is creating interpretive panels to be placed at the New Bern Battlefield, and they wished to use a photograph of Kady Brownell, “The Heroine of New Bern”.

Kady Brownell (1842–January 14, 1915) was a vivandière (a French name for women attached to military regiments as sutlers or canteen keepers) who helped the Union army during the American Civil War. She was an active participant in the First Battle of Bull Run (1861), where she held the flag high even as Confederate bullets were flying and, after re-enlisting into the 5th Rhode Island Infantry with her new husband, Robert Brownell, at the Battle of New Bern (1862). Following the Civil War, Kady was the only female to receive discharge papers from the Union Army.

Brownell Exhibit

Brownell Exhibit

The illustration was from Women of the War: Their Heroism and Self-Sacrifice by Frank Moore, one of the books contained in our collection The Civil War Part II: The Soldiers’ Perspective. We were able to supply an enhanced cropped image for the society’s use. Again, an acknowledgement referencing Accessible Archives is required in these instances.


In our last issue we announced a number of improvements to our MARC records offerings. Chris Fox in the Harold B. Lee Library at Brigham Young University contacted us with some specific questions regarding downloading only the records for those databases held by the library, updating of records for newly added resources and delivery notifications. In this issue Howard Shatz, our MARC expert, addresses those areas.

The MARC records provided for the Accessible Archives materials are primarily modified MARC records for the original printed material. The modifications reflect the fact that the material is now available as an electronic resource by Accessible Archives and contains links to the electronic book and collection. Other modifications include removing non-standard fields and fields with information not relevant to the material and Accessible Archives.

When updates are completed the new MARC records can be downloaded either as a zip file containing one file with all MARC records or as a zip file with a file for each collection containing all records for that collection, enabling the library to obtain just the new and updated records for its collection. We are working on developing a regular delivery schedule. In the meantime, all clients will be notified when there are updates to the MARC records.

Chris responded to the information we provided her with the following: “Thanks to both you and Iris for your prompt and very helpful replies. I love great customer service – thanks for providing it!”

Thank you, Chris, for the compliment and for raising the questions that prompted us to expand the information we provide to our customers about our MARC records.


Over the years Accessible Archives and the Committee on Institutional Cooperation have negotiated a mutually beneficial relationship whereby CIC members have access to special offers and additional discounts when acquiring permanent access to Accessible Archives’ databases. Earlier this year an agreement was reached whereby CIC members were able to acquire access to Frank Leslie’s Weekly at an extremely generous rate, along with additional Purchase Bonuses.

Accessible Archives always is willing to develop similar alliances with other organizations, while still maintaining competitive pricing and providing special opportunities to individual and independent universities, colleges and public libraries. Please contact us for further information.

Inside the Archives

Inside the Archives – April 2014 – Volume III Number 2

April 2014
Volume III. Number 2.

In this Issue


How Do Hurricane Katrina’s Winds Blow: Racism in 21st Century New OrleansHow Do Hurricane Katrina’s Winds Blow: Racism in 21st Century New Orleans, the first book by Liza Lugo, JD, has been released. According to Dr. Antonio Flores, President and CEO of the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities, How Do Hurricane Katrina’s Winds Blow? explains “the power of law to reinforce the process of dehumanization, but equally the need for law to restrain it.”

Among her resources Ms Lugo frequently consulted Accessible Archives’ databases. She stated: “During the writing process … I found your website very valuable and included Accessible Archives, Inc., in the list of resources found in the back section of the book as legally required.  In this way, readers can learn more about related topics through your organization.”


Laurie D. Mathews recently recreated the Online Resource page for Lehigh Valley Genealogy LLC. She included Accessible Archives, stating that it “… is one of my favorite databases.” She goes on to add: “…I found Accessible Archives’ A White Paper: American Count Histories — Their Uses, Usability, Sources and Problems with Access, which I highly recommend for anyone using county histories.” Thanks for the kind words, Laurie, and for including us in your list of resources!


Accessible Archives will resume offering free Webinars beginning in May.


Accessible Archives strives continually to enhance the ease of access to our collections. Recently, our MARC records offerings have been improved in the following ways. We have:

  • added records for books that were newly included in our databases
  • improved the overall quality of the records
  • made MARC records available in two ways:
    • in multiple files: all MARC records for one collection each in its own file (the library can load just the collections it subscribes to)
    • in one file that contains all MARC records for all collections (the library can load all records in one step)
  • provided separate files containing only new or modified MARC records [so the library doesn’t reload MARC records and overwrite changes it may have made to them]


The J. Willard Marriott Library at the University of Utah had acquired permanent access to only a small portion of African American Newspapers: The 19th Century from Accessible Archives. When they decided to provide access to all the collections through an annual subscription, funding was provided equally by the Colleges of Fine Arts, Humanities and Social & Behavioral Sciences utilizing book funds. They were influenced by the ease of use factor of electronic databases as necessary research in the hard copy resources housed in Special Collections was spotty due to both the access time factor and the limited hours the collections were available.

Mary Ann James, Electronic Resources Manager, pointed out that even though the library utilizes Ex Libris Primo, students tend to access the card catalog first when conducting research as they are looking for materials in all formats. Therefore, it was critical to enter the MARC records supplied by Accessible Archives in a timely manner. Once the records were available students could go immediately to the full-text electronic resources, or to History Packages listing specific databases rather than browsing through all the library’s database holdings.

Previously, students and faculty showed only spotty access to the portions of African American Newspapers: The 19th Century held by the library. Once the subscription was activated and the MARC records entered usage spiked, not only for those portions but across the complete database. In addition, all the collections experienced immediate across the board use, with particularly heavy access in The Lily and Godey’s Lady’s Book, both previously available only in Special Collections. The library points out that prior to Ex Libris Primo MARC records were essential. Even with this discovery service in place, access still is evenly divided between it and the card catalog.


Accessible Archives provides ongoing upgrades and updates to both our new and existing American County Histories collections.

American County Histories IV: The WestSouthwest and West: We continue to add books to each of the states in these collections from an extensive list of available titles. Because we have not yet completed the inclusion of these books pre-publication pricing remains available for both these regions.

Southeast: We have identified and will be adding additional titles to this region. Coverage for each state will be markedly expanded, with new titles included in states where the initial coverage was somewhat limited. There will be no additional cost to current customers for these additional titles.

Midwest and Central: We will begin offering coverage of these final two regions later this year. Member states for each region are:

  • Midwest: Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin
  • Central: Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota


Keyed full-text articles for Frank Leslie’s Weekly now are available for 1855-1857, 1862-1869 and 1912-1922 available. We continue to add more working backward from 1912. Of course, all the images remain available, both for this title and for National Anti-Slavery Standard. Keyed full-text articles for the latter now are available 1840 to mid-1853. We continue to add additional years moving forward from 1853.


The following collections have not yet been completed, so pre-publication pricing remains in effect:

  • American County Histories: Southwest
  • American County Histories: West
  • Frank Leslie’s Weekly
  • National Anti-Slavery Standard

In addition, a number of year-end special offers for our other databases currently are available. Please contact us for specifics on any of these generous pricing offers.


SCPL_logoSpartanburg County Public Library, Spartanburg, SC was the winner of the raffle drawing conducted in the Accessible Archives exhibit booth at the PLA Conference in Indianapolis, IN. The library will receive a free one-year subscription to the complete collection of thirteen databases. While the databases provide archival materials — newspapers, books and periodicals — across all of Colonial and Early America, the library is most excited about gaining access to information most relevant to South Carolina.

Andy Flynt, Director of Reference Services, reacted: “We are happy that we won the free subscription to Accessible Archives’ databases. We look forward to providing access to historical information from South Carolina that we didn’t have before, and know our patrons will love the resource, as well. The genealogical information and the access to 18th century South Carolina newspapers is going to be a hit.”


ALA-LVAccessible Archives will exhibit at the American Library Association’s Annual Conference in Las Vegas, Jun 27-30, 2014. Please visit us in Booth 1738.

We look forward to meeting with current and future customers, and invite you to contact us for an appointment. We have a lot of exciting things to talk about, including new and expanded collections and some special offers.

See you in Las Vegas!