Archive › Inside the Archives
Newsletter Banner

Inside the Archives – Summer 2019 – Volume VIII Number 2

Summer 2019
Volume VIII. Number 2.

Text Mining in the Humanities: What’s a Library to Do?

So, are your humanists asking you for text mining support yet?
Some Humanities scholars have been engaged with these activities for many, many years now, but more and more seem to be getting involved as interest grows and tools become more user-friendly. Libraries increasingly face questions of how to appropriately support text mining activities. Here is a primer and pragmatic advice for those who are considering just how to do this.
Darby Orcutt

Darby Orcutt

First off, what is text mining? Generally, the term is used to refer to a host of computational research practices where a computer “reads” texts at scale and uses algorithms (or artificial intelligence) to quantify or classify texts or their elements. Text mining results can expose linguistic or semantic features, recurrent correlations, and complex patterns across a large corpus. Patterns that a highly observant human scholar might recognize only after a lifetime of reading within their field – or never even notice at all – might be discovered by means of text mining within mere seconds.

Most librarians associate text mining primarily with the digital humanities, but text mining has been an established part of science and social science fields for a very long time. It has perhaps come to the awareness of most academic librarians because humanist scholars have started asking their libraries for help in ways that their more technologically- and quantitatively versed users may not have. In addition, as perhaps disproportionately heavy users of library resources, humanists naturally look to their library as a primary means of discovering information content, accessing it, and for help in using it.

If you see these activities – discovering, accessing, and supporting the use of information – as mission-critical for academic libraries (and I hope you do!), then you’re probably already involved in or at least planning for how to best provide these to humanists around text mining. As with all areas, an institution needs to figure out what its user base is for the service at hand. Text mining currently represents a new interest for many scholars, who may need very basic support, but ranges all the way up to the highly knowledgeable and technically skilled (or humanists who partner with technical experts). When assessing your campus’s needs around text mining, understand that those who are approaching the libraries for help may represent only the more novice portion of your researchers who are engaged in text mining, and that you may need to seek out those who could benefit most from much of what you could offer.


Access to content for text mining is perhaps the most fundamental – and most difficult – aspect of library support for text mining. While we provide all of this wonderful content (databases, ebooks, electronic archives, and more), all of our collections have been built historically for human readers. For computers to “read” our electronic resources means that they have to be able to download (or at least somehow obtain) very large amounts of content, something that might not only overtax the servers of the content provider, but almost certainly violates traditional electronic resource contracts, which of course were designed with human readers in mind.

Fortunately, excellent historical, literary, and cultural content for many eras and geographies can be found, particularly covering works that are no longer in copyright. Quite a few Open Access (OA) resources offer content through APIs (special online interfaces by which data can be easily downloaded en masse) or can be readily “scraped” by researchers (“web scraping” is the technical process of automatically pulling data off of a web site and creating a structured data set from it). One of the more popular OA resources that provides ready data access to strong humanities content is the Making of America (MOA) project, which was a collaboration between the University of Michigan and Cornell University, originally funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation in 1995 (

Accessible Archives data

In terms of licensed and proprietary content, it has become much more common in recent years for vendors to offer data access, although this is still not a standard contract term for most and so should be pursued by libraries whenever licensing new resources, as well as by seeking addenda on existing resource contracts. The time to ensure access to your collections for text mining purposes is prior to the need, as these licensing processes can take some time, even when the parties readily agree to business terms. For digital collections that are owned (perpetual access) by the library, then some reasonable means of data access for purposes of computational research should be included; libraries should avoid investing in content whose use is contractually limited to non-computational readership. For leased collections, the marketplace has not yet fully settled on one model, for the very pragmatic reason that it’s not necessarily reasonable for a text mining project (which may last for many years) to continue to use robust data sets beyond the period of leased access.

Accessible Archives was one of the first commercial vendors of historical archives to offer equal access for text mining as for human readers for perpetual access content. A data mining addendum is included in their standard license agreement. In addition, as Accessible Archives prides itself on the high quality of its TEI Lite XML and rekeyed content at 98% quality or better, their collections more easily suit the technical needs of many especially mid-range humanities researchers. High-end data science researchers can handle content in virtually any way that they can get it, although well-structured metadata is usually preferred. Technically less sophisticated researchers (which are the vast majority of humanist text miners) generally require fairly well-structured metadata to accomplish their work.


Researchers who engage in text mining often have great difficulty in finding accessible data sets. Even libraries that have worked to make such accessible for their researchers do not yet represent them well   – in part, because as a research library community, the frequently thorny issues of discovery have not yet been adequately addressed in any standardized fashion. At present, discovery that data access is available for resources largely happens outside of library catalogs and usually only via lists on library web sites of resources that can be mined by authorized users. This effectively means that researchers must look for resources first within the silo of the type of research they wish to do (text mining) and only then based on the nature (subject, period, genre) of the content itself. Clearly representing the means of accessing data sets also proves challenging, as these are quite diverse, ranging from APIs to mediated vendor requests via librarians to even local library storage on hard drives. In an ideal environment, libraries would readily offer samples of the data set as well so that researchers can make sure that they have the capacity to deal with any particularities of its formatting. Lastly, the provenance and history of the data set (if even known by its owner) may be vital to a given researcher, especially as metadata practices may have changed during the course of its digital production, particularly for resources that were created or revised over a longer period of time. Believe it or not, these are only some of the aspects of a data set that may be crucial to a researcher in finding an appropriate corpus to mine.


Providing appropriate services in support of text mining activities is similarly challenging, and should be very context-driven, reflecting the user needs, mission, priorities, and capacity of the individual library. For high-end researchers, simple access and discovery support may be adequate, as they already have the tools, expertise, and support structures to conduct their research. Yet, the majority of our text mining users (and the fastest growing demographic) fall somewhere in the range between novice and knowledgeable non-expert. Scaling support services to this community on your campus requires knowing that community and recognizing that its needs may change rapidly.

Will your library support text mining tools? Many strong Open Source tools exist to which you may refer users; one of the most venerable sets of textual analysis tools is MALLET (MAchine Learning for LanguagE Toolkit), produced by the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and freely available online at

Many more or less “out-of-the-box” applications satisfy the needs of novice or occasional textual analysts, and easy web searches reveal the most popular tools that other libraries recommend and promote to their users, obviating the need for your library to wholly reinvent this wheel. For more advanced text mining researchers and those who are willing to invest time in learning a more robust tool, the software RStudio, which offers an open source edition, is today’s most popular choice. At the very least, installing basic open source tools and RStudio software on library computers will be helpful to many of your users and begin to communicate at least some level of support for text mining activities.

Will your library provide training for text mining? Many research libraries are now finding that they cannot offer enough instruction sessions to meet the demand for RStudio training. Many routinely offer instruction in web scraping, visualization tools, and a host of other text mining related subjects to users hungry for this content. Of course, whether the library is the appropriate provider of this instruction depends on how your campus is structured, but as a large information need at present, librarians bear a responsibility to at least make sure that it is well addressed at their institution. Perhaps it is best for your library to partner with other units in making sure these itches are scratched, or perhaps even a vended solution fits your institution best. There are a growing number of commercial options that provide on-demand training for users in text and data mining techniques, methods, and tools, and for many schools the cost of licensed training content may scale better than developing, hiring, and supporting staff with the necessary expertise.

At a minimum, consultative needs must be anticipated and addressed, as inevitably users on every campus will seek assistance for text mining activities. Planning ahead with regard to access, discovery, and support services for text mining will at least show that librarians have thought about their roles in providing information services within the realm of computationally assisted research, and these roles should be considered carefully not just within the silo of text mining or digital humanities, but holistically within the larger context of support for digital scholarship and data research of all kinds across the disciplines.

Darby Orcutt is Assistant Head, Collections & Research Strategy, NC State University Libraries, Faculty, University Honors Program, Affiliated Faculty, Center for Innovative Management Studies, Affiliated Faculty, Genetic Engineering & Society Center, and Affiliated Faculty, Leadership in Public Science Cluster, as well as recently served as the Associate Chair of the Faculty of NC State. A national leader in developing models for access to proprietary and use-limited data for content mining and computational research, his current work revolves primarily around research support and engagement for interdisciplinary teams.

Accessible Archives Responds to Our Customers’ Needs!

Michigan & Pennsylvania County Histories Now Available
Accessible Archives announces the completion of Pennsylvania & Michigan in our landmark American County Histories Series. Accessible Archives is the only publisher that has collected and digitized all of the county histories of the U.S. – all 50 states and the District of Columbia in one database! We offer free MARC records, images and full text of all the books – over a million pages of content!

Carolina Consortium
Accessible Archives is pleased to join the participating academic and public libraries in the Carolina Consortium! We recently attended the Carolina Consortium Conference and Iris Hanney conducted a successful Premier on Accessible Archives!

Expanded Direct Product Links
Accessible Archives has responded to requests from our customers for expanded direct browsing and search links for two of our most popular digital collections – African American Newspapers and American County Histories! Accessible Archives recognizes the value of these expanded links for use in a library’s research guides and libguides.

Achieving Higher Customer Satisfaction Is Our Goal at Accessible Archives

 Katherine Brown, Collections Analyst, Auraria Library —  Thank you so much for your help with figuring this out! I really appreciate your prompt responses and dedication to figuring out the problem.”

Elizabeth J. Cronin, Coordinator Information Services, Ocean County Library — “The Military Newspapers of the WWI archive has been great to promote since it includes the Camp Dix paper.  The picture of the Camp library is a treasure.”

 Barbara Kelly, Director of Libraries, Faulkner University“Thank you so much! Thank you for working with us in the way that you have. I have to say, I have never had a vendor work with us so well. We look forward to continuing our patronage with you and marketing the product a bit to our students.”  

Angie Thompson, Cataloging Assistant, Liberty University — “I really appreciate your quick response and timely resolution. I deal with a lot of our electronic content vendors when problems arise, and your team’s support is head and shoulders above the rest!”

Upcoming Conference Events

Will you be at the ALA Annual Conference, June 20-25, 2019?
We’d love to visit with you at Booth 3041!

Contact us for an appointment; we have lots to talk about!
Walter E. Washington Convention Center, Washington, D.C.
Accessible Archives, Booth #3041

© 2019 Accessible Archives, Inc.

Download as PDF

Download Newsletter

Unlimited Priorities LLC© is the exclusive sales and marketing agent for Accessible Archives:

Iris L. Hanney
Unlimited Priorities LLC
Robert Lester
Product Development
Unlimited Priorities LLC

Unlimited Priorities LLC

Publisher and Editor of Inside the Archives

Inside the Archives

Inside the Archives – Spring 2019 – Volume VIII Number 1

Spring 2019
Volume VIII. Number 1.

Temperance and Its Impact on American Women’s History

During the 19th Century, the Temperance Movement evolved into the largest Women’s political movement in America. For many years, scholars have viewed the importance of the Temperance Movement on the politicization of women and its impact on the Women’s rights and suffrage movements. Accessible Archives recognizes this and helps to stimulate interest and research in our primary source databases by maintaining an extremely active blog presence on temperance and gender. We have asked our guest writer Jill O’Neil to select from our blog posts and craft a narrative around them. We’re sure you will find her coverage both inciteful and informative.
Jill O’Neill

Jill O’Neill

When Amelia Bloomer first launched her publication, The Lily, in 1849, the publication saw the Temperance Movement as significantly associated with the rights of women as was acquiring the vote. The damage wrought by alcohol abuse on the lives of women without the benefit of recourse from the courts drove parallel progressive movements.

Those reform movements of the 19th century reached milestones in the early 20th century with the successful passage of Prohibition legislation in 1919 and legislation ensuring universal suffrage in 1920. This article draws attention to this progressive, cultural movement as documented in primary source material hosted on Accessible Archives. Our thanks to Accessible Archives blogger, J.D. Thomas, for his contributions to this blog-a-thon.

This first item notes (albeit with some melodrama) the experience of one woman who had been consigned to the county asylum from despair over the brutality experienced at the hands of a drunkard and the loss of her recognized standing in the community. (more…)

Inside the Archives

Inside the Archives – Autumn 2018 – Volume VII Number 3

Autumn 2018
Volume VII. Number 3.

Your New Issue of the Accessible Archives Newsletter Continues Our Blogathon!

The impact of Women’s political and social activities throughout American history has been the focus of increasing scholarly attention for many years. Accessible Archives recognizes this and helps to stimulate interest and research in our primary source databases by maintaining an extremely active blog presence. In the Fall newsletter, we are continuing our Blogathon and have pulled together a selection of seven postings highlighting 19th and early 20th Century Women’s Rights and Suffrage events and thinking. We have asked our guest writer Jill O’Neil to wrap a narrative around them. We’re sure you will find her coverage both insightful and informative.

Contemporary Coverage of Women’s Historical Events and Thinking

By Jill O’Neill

Jill O’Neill

Jill O’Neill is the Educational Programs Manager for the National Information Standards Organization

Incremental shifts in attitudes held regarding a political movement or social cause can frequently only be seen in retrospect. The variety of Accessible Archives collections of primary source materials allows users an excellent means of observing attitudes that may have existed at a specific point of time, but which are subsequently modified. The same set of publications may allow users to note differences in those attitudes on a regional basis or other point of differentiation.

As an example, in this issue of the Accessible Archives newsletter we reference published items from 1870 through 1919 that show efforts to legalize votes for women in the United States. In a piece dated 1911, the Western Woman Voter notes the following with some pride:

“In five states of the Union, Washington, Colorado, Idaho, Wyoming and Utah, women vote for President, Vice-President, Congressmen and all state, county and city officials.”

Users may well be surprised at that listing of five states ahead in granting the right to vote.

The datelines provided before each item below indicate the publication in which the piece was published. We also indicate the collection from which each item was drawn. (more…)

Inside the Archives

Inside the Archives – Summer 2018 – Volume VII Number 2

Summer 2018
Volume VII. Number 2.
One way in which Accessible Archives helps to stimulate interest and research in our primary source databases is by maintaining an extremely active blog presence. During June we will distribute a comprehensive blogathon with a second scheduled for this Fall. In this newsletter we have pulled together a selection of six postings – a “Best of the Blogs”, if you will – from the twelve provided in the initial blogathon and asked our guest writer Jill O’Neil to wrap a narrative around them. We’re sure you will find her coverage both inciteful and informative.

Contemporary Coverage of Historical Events and Thinking

By Jill O’Neill

Jill O’Neill

Jill O’Neill is the Educational Programs Manager for the National Information Standards Organization (NISO). She has been an active member of the information community for thirty years, most recently managing the professional development programs for NFAIS (National Federation of Advanced Information Services).

One of the extraordinary experiences one has in working with collections of primary source documents is tracing from one document to another the unfolding of events as noted in newspapers and other periodicals. Dipping into a variety of the Accessible Archives collections, the reader can follow in half a dozen articles a full century of American history. As these article datelines show, such contemporary news accounts present the frictions of a social order struggling to come to maturity.

Dateline: December 8, 1730, The Pennsylvania Gazette

Our selected century opens with an account of Native Americans meeting King George in September 1730. Accorded a certain degree of dignity, the chiefs were conducted to the Plantation Office in Whitehill in order to be presented to King George II and to formalize a treaty. The ceremony included recognition by Frederick, Prince of Wales. The event was intended to mark the end of hostilities between those tribes and the English colonists.

Yesterday the Indian Chiefs were carried from their Lodgings in King street, Covent Garden, to the Plantation Office at Whitehill, guarded by two Files of Musketeers. When they were brought up to the Lords Commissioners, they sang 4 or 5 Songs in their Country Language; after which the Interpreter was ordered to let them know that they were sent for there to join in Peace with King George and his People; and were desired to say, if they had any Thing further to offer relating to the Contract they had before entered into.

 Upon which the King stood up, and gave a large Feather he had in his hand to the Prince, who thereupon spoke to the Lords Commissioners to this Effect.

That they were sensible of the good Usage they received since they came here, and that they would use our People always well; that they came here like Worms out of the Earth, naked, and that we had put fine Cloaths on their Backs, (pointing to the Cloaths) and that they never should forget such king Dealings, but should declare the same to their Countrymen.

King George II

King George II

And thereupon the Prince laid the Feather with a Bit of Skin upon the Table, saying, It should be as good as the Bible to bind the Contract with King George; and said also, that a Feather should not better love his Son, than they would do us: So made a Peace.

The Commissioners then told them they should have a Copy of the Contract, with the King’s seal to it; and the Governor should entertain them; upon which the King got up and kiss’d the Commissioners, as the Prince had done before; the other Chiefs also did the same; whereupon they sang some more Songs, and then returned home.

This account appeared in The Pennsylvania Gazette, a prominent newspaper published from Philadelphia by owner and frequent contributor, Benjamin Franklin. The Pennsylvania Gazette provided its readership with awareness of activities in the Canadian Maritime Provinces through the West Indies and North and South America. Throughout the course of its publication run the newspaper played an important role in directing colonists’ thinking about politics, including the famous political cartoon by Franklin (Join or Die), as well as novel research, including Franklin’s account of his experimental use of a kite to study electricity.

Dateline: January 21, 1773, The Virginia Gazette

An opinion piece in The Virginia Gazette indicates a growing disenchantment with the British Crown’s handling of colonial interests. By this point, George III had been on the throne for more than fifteen years. The economic policies of his ministers would in a matter of months allow the passage of the Tea Act in May 1773 with the result of a protest by local merchants in the form of the Boston Tea Party. Still the language of this piece makes clear the discontent in Colonial America even as the respect due a sovereign suffuses the expressed reproach.

How poor is that Prince, amidst all his wealth, whose subjects are only kept by a slavish fear, the gaoler of the soul. An iron arm, fastened with a screw, may be stronger, but never so useful, because not so natural as an arm of flesh, joined with muscles and sinews: So loving subjects are more serviceable, as being more kindly united to their Sovereign than those which are only forced on with fear and threatening.

Further on, the anonymous author writes:

Let that Prince, who would beware of conspiracies, be rather jealous of such whom his extraordinary favours have advanced than of those whom his displeasure hath discontented: These want means to execute their pleasures, but those have means at pleasure to execute their desires. A Sovereign being the father of his people, he is bound to treat them as his children, and fear makes them only masters of the body, whereas love makes them rulers over the heart. The crown and scepter are things most weighty: If a Prince be good he is laden with labour; if evil, with infamy. Kings should observe the example of celestial bodies, the sun, moon, and the rest, which have great glory and veneration, but no rest or intermission, being in a perpetual office of motion for cherishing of inferior bodies, expressing likewise the true manner of the motions of government, which, though they ought to be swift and rapid in respect of occasion and dispatch, yet are they to be constant and regular, without wavering or confusion…They likewise are to imitate the Heavens, who do not enrich themselves by the earth and seas, nor keep no dead stock, or untouched treasure, of that they draw to themselves from below, but whatsoever moisture they do levy and take from the inferior elements in vapours they return in showers; only storing them for a time to issue and distribute in season. To search into the actions of Princes dilates more curiosity than honesty; for that which is expedient in a Prince, in a lower fortune, is utterly unmeet.

The piece closes with this final piece of counsel:

Kings rule by their laws as God does by the law of nature, and ought as rarely to put in use their supreme prerogative as God doth his power in working miracles.

Of equal status to The Pennsylvania Gazette, The Virginia Gazette covered the region south of the Potomac River, informing the populace of events affecting the English colonies. The Virginia Gazette was at this time still published from offices in Williamsburg, Virginia although it would later be relocated to the city of Richmond, when that city became the new state capital.

Dateline: August 12, 1778, The Gazette of the State of South Carolina

That the economic model of the colonies was itself exploitative is revealed by looking at the classified ads that ran in this newspaper.  Five notices published in that August issue note the label of property applied to human labor in that state. The initial ad offers for sale (though not due to fault of the individual) a male slave used to working in the field. The second offers a reward for the return of Sam, “a dark Mulatto” shoemaker. In the third item, we learn of a runaway wife but the reward goes for the apprehension of one Peter Bourdaju, a deserter who is blamed for the theft of 800 pounds.  Both the runaway wife (Angelica Elizabeth Baour) and Mr. Bourdaju are described in great physical detail:

He is about 5 feet 5 or 6 inches high, thin faced, has a long nose, black curled hair, brown complexion, is slim made, and speaks both French and English; my wife is a short thick made woman, brown complexion, red faced, marked with the small-pox, and has black hair she speaks good English, and a great deal of French when she pleases, and is very bold.

The bilingual couple had lived in Hillsborough Township in South Carolina.

Also listed in the classified ads as runaways are a woman of yellow complexion, Clarinda, formerly belonging to a Mrs Gordon, and a skilled cabinet maker, Henry, who has escaped the ownership of Mrs. Sophia Desering.

The full text is rather harsher:

RUN AWAY the 4th of August, a negro wench names Clarinda, of a yellow complexion, had on when she went away a cross-bar check coat, a coarse white linen shirt, and a blue handkerchief on her head, and formerly belonged to Mrs. Gordon, Whoever will deliver the said wench to the warden of the work-house in Charlestown, or to the subscribers in King-street, shall receive a reward of fifty pounds currency and all reasonable charges; and whoever harbours or entertains her, may depend upon being prosecuted to the utmost rigor of the law.

RUN away from the subscriber, a negro man named Harry, who was sent to me by his Mistress, Mrs. Sophia Desering, to go to Combahee, but he has taken the advantage of his Mistress’s letter,and gone to work at the cabinet marker’s business in Charlestown, upwards of six weeks since. I do offer a reward of one hundred pounds to any person that will give information of his being employed or harboured by a white person, and twenty if by a negro; or the reward of ten dollars to any one that will deliver him to the Warden of the Workhouse, or to me at Combahee.

The Accessible Archives collection of South Carolina Newspapers contains four newspapers covering that region — The South Carolina Gazette, The South Carolina and American General Gazette, the South Carolina Gazette & Country Journal, and the Gazette of the State of South Carolina — collectively encompassing the years 1732 -1780.

Dateline: September 1778, American County Histories

Others were fleeing the authorities for other reasons. A history of Monmouth and Ocean Counties in New Jersey tells the story of a young Stephen Edwards who was hiding from cavalry officer Captain Jonathan Forman. Forman tracked Edwards to his father’s farm, entering the bedroom of Mrs. Edwards at midnight with a party of men. Forman challenged the woman:

“Who have you here?” said Forman.

“A laboring woman,” replied Mrs. Edwards.

The captain detected the disguise, and on looking under the bed, saw Edwards’ clothing, which he examined, and in which he found the papers given him by Colonel Taylor.

He then said, “Edwards, I am sorry to find you! You see these papers? You have brought yourself into a very disagreeable situation— you know the fate of spies!”

Edwards denied the allegation, remarking that he was not such and could not so be considered.

The author of the county history goes on to note:

The guilt of Edwards was conclusively proven; deep sympathy was felt for his parents and wife, but the perils of the patriots at this time were so great that prompt and decisive action was necessary for their own preservation.

The foolhardiness of Edwards in keeping treasonable papers about him was remarkable. Some features of this affair will remind the reader of the unfortunate Major Andre. It is probable that Edwards was executed about September, 1778.

The American County Histories collection covers counties from across the United States in nine groupings including: Central, Mid-Atlantic Part 1, Mid-Atlantic Part 2, Midwest, New England Part 1, New England Part 2, Southeastern, The Southwest, and The West. Edwards’ story appears in the digital edition of A History of Monmouth and Ocean Counties, Embracing a Genealogical Record of Earliest Settlers in Monmouth and Ocean Counties and Their Descendants, The Indians: Their Language, Manners and Customs, Important Historical Events.

Dateline: August 18, 1832, The Liberator

By the time of this final item in our “century of history”, Charles Carroll, the last surviving signer of the Declaration of Independence, would be dying. Andrew Jackson was closing out his first term as President of the United States and John Marshall was the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. There was a cholera pandemic weighing down on the Eastern seaboard, but at the same time the larger problem of the “Slavery Question” was beginning to be publicly articulated.

In the pages of The Liberator, an important advocate for the abolition of slavery, the following report appeared of prophetic remarks made by Mr. Gaston to the youth of the University of North Carolina.

On you will devolve the duty which has been too long neglected, but which cannot with impunity be neglected much longer, of providing for the mitigation, and (is it too much to hope for in North Carolina?) for the ultimate extirpation of the worst evil that afflicts the Southern part of our Confederacy.

Full well do you know to what I refer, for on this subject there is, with all of us, a morbid sensitiveness which gives warning even of an approach to it. Disguise the truth as we may, and throw the blame where we will, it is Slavery which more than any other cause, keeps us back in the career of improvement.

It stifles industry and represses enterprise – it is fatal to economy and providence – it discourages skill – impairs our strength as a community…

The Liberator would continue to publish through the end of 1865. The full run of issues is available from Accessible Archives.

Connect to our Blog Archive

Imaging for American County Histories Completed

We have finalized the imaging portion of our massive American County Histories collection. The project culminated with the inclusion of the last volumes from the expanded portions of the New England and Mid-Atlantic Regions. Imaging previously was completed for the original coverage of these areas as well as for the Southeast, Southwest, West, Central and Midwest regions. As with all our collections, we are providing customized MARC records, and these free records are now fully available for all completed images. As a reminder access to this database – and to all our collections – is supported through all discovery services.

License Agreement Term Improvements for Accessible Archives June 2018

 All customers will receive an e-mail blast from Unlimited Priorities LLC, Exclusive Sales and Marketing Agent, for Accessible Archives, Inc.

License Agreement Term Improvements

License Agreement Term Improvements

 Upcoming Conference Event

Coming to the ALA Annual Conference?
We’d love to visit with you.
Contact us for an appointment; we have lots to talk about.

Ernest N. Morial Convention Center – Halls G-J Booth #2760

Ernest N. Morial Convention Center – Halls G-J – Booth #2760

© 2018 Accessible Archives, Inc.

Download as PDF

Download Newsletter

Unlimited Priorities is the exclusive sales and marketing agent for Accessible Archives:

Iris L. Hanney
Unlimited Priorities LLC
Robert Lester
Product Development
Unlimited Priorities LLC

Unlimited Priorities LLC

Publisher and Editor of Inside the Archives

Inside the Archives

Inside the Archives – Winter 2018 – Volume VII Number 1

Winter 2018
Volume VII. Number 1.

Many Thanks for a Wonderful Year from Accessible Archives!
We wish you the Best for the Coming One!

Happy New Year

Great News That Will Help With Your 2018 Library Budget Plan!

Cost SavingsAccessible Archives understands the financial constraints occurring across America, particularly within the Library Community. So, in the spirit of the New Year we are holding the line on pricing for 2018.

That means no increase in cost for permanent access to our databases, for our subscriptions, and even for our maintenance fee. So now you can lock in one small part of your 2018 budget.

The Role of Research Guides in Supporting Interdisciplinary Research

By Jill O’Neill

Jill O’Neill

Jill O’Neill is the Educational Programs Manager for the National Information Standards Organization (NISO). She has been an active member of the information community for thirty years, most recently managing the professional development programs for NFAIS (National Federation of Advanced Information Services). Her publishing expertise was gained working for such prominent content providers as Elsevier, the Institute for Scientific Information (ISI, now Clarivate Analytics), and John Wiley & Sons. Jill writes for a diverse set of publications, including Information Today and the Scholarly Kitchen blog.[

The increasing emphasis on interdisciplinary research in higher education is likely to drive change in the information community. In order for our understanding of complex problems to progress (and in order to identify a viable solution of such problems), research must frequently focus on the fringes of established knowledge within a particular discipline. By definition, interdisciplinary research requires study of two or more distinct fields of knowledge by domain experts seeking to identify connections or patterns across the distinct fields. At the same time, the highly specialized information products that serve scholars in one field (such as economics) may not be suited to the needs of the non-specialist — whether that non-specialist be an advanced practitioner in another field or a college student with a major in biology trying to complete a requirement in art history.

Non-specialists will be unfamiliar with specific vocabulary common to a particular field of study. They may need guidance in navigating information resources, even if the resource includes a well-honed taxonomy or thesaurus as an aid. An individual studying the pros and cons surrounding nuclear energy may need guidance in identifying the relevant specialized publications in health care or law before he or she will be able to successfully integrate the available knowledge and develop meaningful insights.  Information professionals are already providing support for this type of work.

Interdisciplinary Support in the Library

As a preliminary example, one might look at an interdisciplinary research guide developed by librarians at Pennsylvania State University on the topic of Three Mile Island. At first glance, the guide might seem somewhat ordinary; its top-level menu directs the user to the usual books, scholarly articles and reports, news sources and additional archives that might be useful. However, the guide serves non-specialist needs when one drills down into those menus by recommending specific terms applicable in searching various resources. When searching for business information, recommended terms and phrases include “nuclear accidents” and “radiation” whereas directions for searching specialized engineering resources recommend using more specific concepts such as “core meltdown” and “fission reactor”. In searching databases more oriented towards the social sciences, the information seeker concerned with community or societal impact might include such phrases as “industrial accidents” or “antinuclear movement”. (See

Interdisciplinary Support in the Library

While some research guides may simply break out the types of available resources assembled by the institutional library — encyclopedias, primary sources, articles, or websites — the more indications provided by a subject specialist on appropriate terminology and concepts well-suited to the particular resource, the likelier it is that a non-specialist user will be appropriately directed.

A more useful approach might be one such as can be seen in a guide developed by the libraries of Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. A guide for work in American Studies characterizes available resources not just in general terms but in terms of long-standing areas of friction that require a broad array of perspectives — Current/Social Issues, Gender, Race/Ethnicity, and Native American Resources.

Interdisciplinary Support in the Library 2

For graduate students, appropriate guidance may be directed at ensuring awareness of available special collections and digital archives. For students of fashion law, Harvard’s Law School Library offers pointers to such world-class resources as the Vintage Fashion collection from British Pathé on YouTube and the University of Wisconsin’s digital collection on millinery, dressmaking, clothing and costume. Another link directs the user to the Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in American and specifically to their Fashion Research Guide.

Non-specialists may readily come across some content through initial searches of Google, usually a first point of investigation. Such a search might immediately turn up library research guides that link to major collections of primary source materials.

In a Schlesinger Library research guide on Women’s Suffrage (see, the approach adopted was to spotlight specific suffragists whose papers are held at Harvard — such names as Susan B. Anthony, Matilda Joslyn Gage, and Elizabeth Cady Stanton. The online guide’s menu also points the user to individuals and organizations that were part of the anti-suffrage movement — Ernest Bernbaum or the Massachusetts Association Opposed to the Further Extension of Suffrage to Women. This organizational approach makes sense if the key objective is to spotlight primary documents sought by specialists working with the library’s own set of collections. But there is no support — even under the subheading Research Tips — for guiding the non-specialist. The user is referred to the library’s catalog with no recommendations (beyond the word “suffrage”) as to terms or phrases that might be used for searching any of that library’s remarkable collections.  Nor is there any indication of how a user might leverage those collections in examining larger issues to which the suffrage movement lent its weight.

Interdisciplinary Support in the Library 3

Complicating the Issue

As noted in the 2017 Oxford University Press research report, Navigating Research, the nature of reference work in the library is changing. (See  Rather than holding physical print product in a separate library setting, research collections have moved into the digital environment. Items that might have been held on reserve now circulate; other information resources are exclusively online, making it more difficult for users to browse or experience serendipitous discovery. Since the advent of the Web, librarians have worked to develop easily accessible research guides to point patrons working outside of the library to available and relevant materials. Such research guides improve user navigation in accessing resources, clarify the nature of the resource and showcase materials and collections held by the library.

As this article’s earlier examples might suggest, the presentation of research guides differs dramatically from institution to institution. Some institutions have focused on tying the material to course content; others (like Princeton at offer guides not tied to specific disciplines (see the guide for Data Analysis or Citation Management) or guides specifically characterized as being interdisciplinary. Elsewhere, some basic research guides present materials according to type — books, articles, databases. While students find such break-outs familiar, such approaches don’t readily accommodate the interdisciplinary researcher’s requirements. Faculty may visit Google Scholar as their initial point of departure while students tend to glance at Wikipedia for identifying general search terms. But there is little support for recognizing the differences in how distinct domains of knowledge are presented via terminology, umbrella concepts or philosophy.

Discovery systems, currently in place at institutional libraries, adequately recognize the differences encountered between disciplinary communities. Where subject specific resources may have highly refined taxonomies and extensive thesauri for purpose of search, discovery services are brute tools of retrieval. Ambiguous terms and phrases may mislead or confuse the novice investigator.

In the context of interdisciplinary research, such guides may need to be revisited with an eye to   highlighting specific topics that may be touched on in such primary collections. Having a wealth of available information resources to offer to patrons, how might a librarian best spotlight content with broad applicability and usefulness? Rather than reliance on scope notes describing an available database, an innate interest in a topic as well as a spark of creativity may be called for as librarians think about the next generation of research guides.

Enhancing the Research Guide

Take a look at a recent entry that appeared on the Accessible Archives blog. Entitled “The Right of Boycott”, The content of the post was directly taken from a news story appearing in the January 1913 issue of The Western Woman Voter.  That particular extract is contained in Accessible ArchivesWomen’s Suffrage Series, but the applicability of the content is broader than women’s suffrage. Scanning it, there are references to liquor licensing in Canada, to the Steel Trust in the United States and to a variety of worker strikes in Europe. But would a non-specialist working in the realm of economic inequality think to search material from a newspaper devoted to women’s suffrage?

By drawing attention to the specific availability of unique content contained in a digital collection rather than generic descriptions of content, users may be drawn to explore resources that otherwise would have been dismissed as irrelevant. While information professionals are always cautious about exerting undue influence over the user’s selection of materials in pursuing a research question, a serendipitous glimpse of interesting and potentially relevant content may be precisely the spark needed to invite the non-specialist’s interest.

Revisiting the American Studies research guide at Dickinson, a similar kind of blog content surfaces if the user looks under the Gender tab (  The Women’s Experiences at Dickinson College blog ( listed under “Other Relevant Databases” refers the reader to the availability of commentary from a 1911 news correspondent for the female residence on campus, Lloyd Hall, having to do with women’s suffrage. Because the metadata associated with the entry is limited and because the content is (apparently) not yet digitized, such available primary documentation would be unlikely to appear in a Google search.

In order to justify continued library investment in subject specific and potentially niche information resources, librarians need to showcase the kind of unique materials that may be held there. Interdisciplinary research broadens the audience for any given collection of content. Frequent updates to interdisciplinary research guides directing attention to relevant but otherwise obscure material may drive much needed user engagement with otherwise static content.


  • The current emphasis on interdisciplinary research continues as systems (social, technological, etc.) become increasingly complex and interdependent. While information resources in the sciences may be ahead in awareness of and accommodating the need to support non-specialist exploration, those working in the humanities and the social sciences may increasingly seek aids to discovery and navigation of unfamiliar terrain.
  • Organizational structure of research guides and discovery services may provide insufficient guidance for non-specialists in a given field. Offer tabbed navigation to larger conceptual areas.
  • Support for interdisciplinary investigations can be readily provided and integrated into existing research guides through suggestions for appropriate terminology and phrases for use in constructing search queries.
  • Spotlighting not just unique collections but also specific instances of content may be a means of engaging users’ interests in exploring materials that might otherwise be viewed as irrelevant by a non-specialist. Frequent updating of guides, including where feasible unique portions of vendor-supplied content, as seen in the example from the Accessible Archives blog entry, may be used to attract interest.

Stay Tuned for Jill’s Next Article in the Spring 2018 Edition of the Accessible Archives Newsletter.

Great News About American County Histories!

Texas County Histories Is Now A Major Collection in the    University of Texas Digital Library!

 From Library NewsUT Southwestern Medical Center, Health Sciences Digital Library and Learning Center: “ALCEP Funding Highlights—Texas County Histories”

 Posted on November 29, 2017 by Library News Editor

A wide group of online resources was recently purchased by the University of Texas Digital Library with Academic Library Collection Enhancement Program (ALCEP) funds. The UT Board of Regents allocates ALCEP funds for one-time collection purchases to broaden the research and scholarly capabilities of the System’s fourteen institutions. The UT Southwestern Health Sciences Digital Library and Learning Center now offers online access to…history-centric resources through an ALCEP purchase: Texas County Histories

The Library now has perpetual access rights to Texas County Histories, a major collection from Accessible Archives. Accessible Archives comprises full-text, searchable databases that include serial publications such as newspapers and magazines, as well as books and county histories.

Some of these Texas County Histories …provide information on the history of medicine in Texas. The Encyclopedia of Texas, written in the 1920s, has a chapter on the history of the Texas medical profession, written by R. W. Knox, M.D., who had been a president of what is now known as the Texas Medical Association. Another chapter highlights Dallas as the medical center of the Southwest.

Accessible Archives Finalizes Imaging of American Military Camp Newspapers

Accessible Archives has announced that all images in the American Military Camp Newspapers component of its America and World War I series have been mounted on the website and that the XML-tagged text will be fully available early in 2018.

Camp Bragg News1917 marked the one-hundredth anniversary of America’s entry into World War I. The arrival of American Expeditionary Forces in Europe helped turn the tide in favor of France and Britain, leading to an Allied victory over Germany and Austria in November, 1918. By the time of the armistice, more than   4 million Americans had served in the armed forces and 116,708 had lost their lives. While in-depth perspectives of actual combat are plentiful, information about the soldiers themselves prior to deployment is not so well known. A vast number of troops received their initial combat training in military camps, and camp newspapers chronicle their experiences.

Camp Sherman NewsAmerican Military Camp Newspapers makes important original source material – much of it written by soldiers for soldiers – readily available for research and fresh interpretation of events pertaining to The Great War. These newspapers carried articles on what it was like to leave home by both recruits and draftees, the initial excitement of training, the drudgery of camp life, attitudes toward officers and fellow soldiers and ongoing news about the enemy. Also included were non-war related advertisements, poetry, short stories, memoirs, jokes and cartoons.  Photographs and sketches portrayed life in the various camps, on the home front and at the battlefields. Camp personnel, places, and events are described with a richness that brings new credibility and perspective to scholarly research.

There is truly not one part of the nation that was not touched by World War I. American Military Camp Newspapers provides the potential to remind people of the war’s far-reaching significance and perhaps uncover new stories about the American soldier’s experience that we have not yet heard.

As American Military Camp Newspapers enters its final completion stage we are pleased to offer generous pre-publication pricing.

Check Out Our Women’s Suffrage Series!

Read about the impact of Women’s political and social activities
throughout the 19th and early 20th Century!

Accessible Archives makes an essential set of Women’s Suffrage newspapers and periodicals available in an easy-to-use online research and teaching tool designed to assist scholars and students on all levels achieve faster and easier access to these essential resources This Series covers more than 50 years of primary sources and includes the mainstream movement newspapers and periodicals as noted below.  In addition, our Series includes the most popular anti-Suffrage periodical from the Massachusetts Association Opposed to the Further Extension of Suffrage to Women – The Remonstrance.

The Collection

Achieving Higher Customer Satisfaction Is Our Goal at Accessible Archives

When a student needed the exact date for Frederick Douglass’ speech ‘What the Black Man Wants,’ given at the 1865 annual meeting of the Mass. Anti-Slavery Society — was it before or after Lincoln’s assassination? – the only reference with the actual speech and date was Accessible Archives’ The Civil War. Thank you! –Edward C. Oetting, History/Political Science Bibliographer, Arizona State University

 “UNC libraries and their users consider Accessible Archives products to be important e-resources for supporting research in African American studies and on the history of the American South and, as a consequence, consistently have made their acquisition a priority.” —Luke Swindler, Coordinator of General Collections, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Libraries

“…I remain an appreciative customer of Accessible Archives…” —Jack Robertson, Fiske and Marie Kimball Librarian, Jefferson Library at Monticello

American County Histories Webinar Coming!

American County Histories: A Unique Research Resource – 11am, January 23, 2018

American County Histories provide vivid portraits of people, places and events, putting a state’s local history into current context with the examination of demographic, social, economic, and cultural transformations. This webinar explores the question — Why should researchers, historians, and librarians encourage on-going preservation and use of a publication genre like county histories? It also discusses publication trends, library user cases, the scope of online resources, and more.

Register Now

Upcoming Conference Events

Will you be in Denver at ALA Mid-Winter, February 9-12, 2018?
Visit us at booth #2211! We would love to get together with you!
Call to set up a meeting, or just stop by.

ALA Midwinter - Denver 2018

Colorado Convention Center – Halls A-C
Booth #2211

Let us know if you will be in Austin at ER&L, March 4-7, 2018!
Contact us for an appointment, or stop by for a chat!

AT&T Conference Center


AT&T Conference Center  

© 2018 Accessible Archives, Inc.

Download as PDF

Download Newsletter

Unlimited Priorities is the exclusive sales and marketing agent for Accessible Archives:

Iris L. Hanney
Unlimited Priorities LLC
Robert Lester
Product Development
Unlimited Priorities LLC

Unlimited Priorities LLC

Publisher and Editor of Inside the Archives

Positive SSL