Skip to main content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

History 399: Digital History: Primary Source Collections

For your HistoryPin assignment, you'll need to find your primary source materials in two online collections provided by Collins Memorial Library--A Sound Past (for photographs) and The Trail (to access student newspaper coverage).  Your goal will be to put these two primary source collections in conversation with one another.

A Sound Past

Metadata & Search Functionality:

A Sound Past uses the CONTENTdm, a digital asset management software package which optimizes natural language, text-based querying across large collections. 

CONTENTdm can support many different metadata standards, including Encoded Archival Description (EAD), but will map elements to the more basic Dublin Core, a set of 15 basic descriptors.

Searching Tips:

  • Be flexible and persistent!
  • Before searching, create a list of synonyms and related terms, for example: dormitory, dorm, dormitories, residence halls, campus housing.
  • Do research in The Trail to see if you can identify additional terms, such as names of people, names of buildings that have since changed, or places that no longer exist (such as the Thompson fountain).

The Trail

Digitization of newspapers is extraordinarily expensive. The quickest and cheapest way to get the content digitized is to:

  • Send the material out to a company that specializes in automated scanning, a process which destroys the physical copies. [Archives & Special Collections had two physical copies of most issues of The Trail; if there was only one copy available, it did not get sent out to be digitized and will not be part of the digital collection.]
  • Opt for issue-level files instead of article-level files. [This is why each issue is a single PDF file.]
  • Choose basic OCR to enable text searching, with no additional descriptive metadata at either the issue or the article levels. [This is why you'll have to skim the entire issue to find out where your search terms are.]

Searching Tips

  • Be flexible and persistent!
  • Use the "advanced search" function to be able to limit the results by date range.
  • If a member of your group is particularly gifted at skimming large bodies of text, ask that person to be in charge of finding the relevant articles within the PDF issue.