Omeka Site Reviews

The first Omeka site I looked at was the Isaiah Thomas Broadside Ballads Project, an archive of broadside ballads created by the American Antiquarian Society. It collects both scans of the original ballads and the assorted criticism and commentary essays written as a response to them. The archive features helpful resources for managing the large amount of content this entails. Most notably, it features a highly detailed alphabetized list of subjects, from which visitors can navigate to ballads about subjects as specific as ‘barrels’ and ‘young girls’. The page for each broadside features a scan of the original document as well as information on the date, subjects, a few paragraphs of general commentary, and author and a link to a transcription. In terms of design, the website is simple but not unattractive. It features some woodcut-style art that complements its subject. Its header fonts have an antique look that also references the subject of the site, but the body text is a more readable sans serif font. Overall, the site is effectively organized and easy to navigate, and well-positioned to provide resources both to historians seeking primary sources and to non-historians with an interest in the subject.

I also looked at Goin’ North, an extensive compilation of oral histories of Philadelphian participants and witnesses to the Great Migration. The site features several ways to investigate this information: the Archive function, which lists all the document and provides search options; the Oral History Interviews section, which catalogues oral histories by speaker; and the Stories section, which groups oral histories and other sources from the period by theme. Altogether, this creates a site that has multiple uses accessible by multiple audiences, including historians, history students, and figures interested in community or family history. I did note, however, that some of the links on the site weren’t updated when the site changed urls from nunncenter.net/goinnorth to simply goinnnorth.org. This particularly impacts the ‘Stories’ section and its multiple subsections; the large amount of broken links make it harder to navigate. This is a testament to the fact that, when displayed through digital media, historical content is not set in stone and needs some level of maintaining after the project’s completion.

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