June 7, 2022

Data Management Simplifies Access to JHS Archives

Archivists are educated and trained to preserve, organize, and provide access to materials so that our historical record is complete. For any archive to manage its records, a sound and consistent data management system is required. The term “physical control” of a collection is the aspect that deals with the arrangement of items within a collection as well as its quantity and location. Once the items are arranged, the description of the contents within the collection must be placed into a system that the archivist and researchers can access in order find the collection as well as to see the contents within. This system allows the archivist to have what is deemed as “intellectual control” of a collection.

Prior to the era of modern technology, lists would be created by the archivist to help with intellectual control of the collections. Then in the 20th century, we saw a phenomenal growth in recorded information and ways to capture all that information. Creators have developed elaborate systems for the control of records and archivists have had to abandon simple lists and inventories for something more complex, involving hierarchies, series descriptions and record groups.

When the the Jewish Historical Society of Greater MetroWest opened its doors in 1990, a content management system was gifted to us by the founders. We found that, 30 years later, this system no longer fulfills all the needs of our growing organization and that we needed a new system. Transferring the data has been one of the biggest hurdles but we are pleased to announce that our new software is updated and available on our website. Now anyone, from anywhere in the world, can log in and explore more than 575 collections that are in the archive.

This new system will enable us to manage some new and exciting projects, such as our new Lifecycle project, in which we will maintain and preserve a record of those who have lived here, loved here, worked here, and been a part of our community as part of the Society’s historical archive. A collection of obituaries will be the main component of the Lifecyle project. Anyone who wished to have information about their loved ones included in this archive can submit via a form here. To view the catalogue, click here.

We’re so excited that our collections are now accessible to all!