Archives Outside

For people who love, use and manage archives

Archives Outside - For people who love, use and manage archives

Harnessing the power of public participation

The U.S. National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) has approximately 130 million items online and an estimated 110 billion pages of paper in their collection in total. In this video they discuss the way they are creatively exploring the use of public participation to help them meet the challenges of managing and making accessible such a large collection online.

The Citizen Archivist Dashboard is NARA’s new crowdsourcing tool for tagging, transcription, digitization of records, and more. Meredith Stewart demonstrates the various collaboration tools in the dashboard and discusses how the dashboard fits into the National Archives’ online strategy as part of Social Media Week DC.

Feeling inspired? Why not check out the Citizen Archivist Dashboard and start exploring.

September 2012 – Link Roundup

Our link love for September

QueryPic Exploring digitised newspapers from Australia & New Zealand

Check out the coolest new digital history tool from @wragge.


QueryPic provides a new way of seeing, searching and understanding the digitised newspapers made available by Trove and Papers Past.

Follow changes over time. Map trends and patterns. Follow a hunch. Frame a question. Explore…

To start using QueryPic visit the Home page.

To learn more about QueryPic visit the Help page.

For inspiration and possibilities check out the Explore page.

Bristol's traumatic last public hanging

Guides to the Gallows

The archives in the Harvard Law School Library include broadsides that accompanied executions in England. The collection of broadsides at Harvard began in 1932, complementing the extensive collection of 18th and 19th century British and American trial documents.

On Nov. 30, 1824, a London banker named Henry Fauntleroy was hanged in public outside Newgate Prison, one month after being sentenced to death for embezzlement. There were 100,000 onlookers.

Many of those watching paid a penny each for a broadside printed just that morning. The single sheet describes Fauntleroy’s reaction when his appeal was denied….

…During England’s Bloody Code period, the number of crimes punishable by death escalated from 50 in 1688 to 220 by 1800. By then, a man, woman, or child could be sentenced to death for “uttering” (passing along fake documents), forgery (Fauntleroy’s crime), poaching, prostitution, insanity, petty theft, or fortune telling.

Read more at the Harvard Gazette

Bilateral Digitization at Digital Frontiers 2012

A transcript of a talk given by one of our favourite crowdsourcing bloggers Ben W. Brumfield.

……. In 2012, the democratization of digitization technology may favor informal collections over institutional ones, privileging online access over quality, completeness, preservation and professionalism.

Will the “cult of the amateur” destroy scholarly and archival standards? Will crowdsourcing unlock a vast, previously invisible archive of material scattered among the public for analysis by scholars? How can we influence the headlong rush to digitize through education and software design? This presentation will discuss the possibilities and challenges of mass digitization for amateurs, traditional scholars, libraries and archives, with a focus on handwritten documents.

View the full talk and slides at Collaborative Manuscript Transcription


Govt Wages War on paper

The decades-old pipedream of the paperless office will be within reach in three years – because taxpayers can no longer afford to put it off.

National Archives of Australia director-general David Fricker says federal government agencies are now spending about $220 million a year storing their paper records.

“And that amount is only going to grow, as more information is created,” Mr Fricker said. “Two-hundred-and-twenty-million dollars is not sustainable; it’s wasteful.”

The director-general and Arts Minister Simon Crean, who oversees the archives, toured the agency’s Mitchell repository today, where some of the government’s most important historical documents are conserved.


Mr Crean warned public servants they had until 2015 to shift to a digital archiving system, as the government would not allow paper files to be produced after that date.

Read the full article at The Sydney Morning Herald

Library seeks help to digitise collection

THE NATIONAL Library is seeking a partner to digitise its collection of genealogical and other material in a move that may mean the state institution puts its collections behind an online paywall.

The library has sought expressions of interest from potential commercial partners as well as the not-for-profit sector. A link-up with a commercial entity would almost certainly involve charging for online access to records, particularly genealogical records.

“We are open-minded as to who we partner with. It could be a philanthropic donor, an academic institution or a commercial business; it could be Irish or international. The core issue for us is that the partner must have the resources, funding and people and we bring the collection,” said Fiona Ross, director of the library.

Learn More at The Irish Times.

Paper flowers and box

“Thank you very, very much J. Edgar Hoover”

On May 10, 1966 J. Edgar Hoover, the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, wrote Alex Rosen, head of the Bureau’s General Investigation Division, thanking him for a gift certificate to a Washington, D.C. nursery.  The gift was in honor of Hoover’s anniversary as director.  “I shall derive much enjoyment in selecting what I want for my yard and home,” Hoover wrote.

For almost fifty years Hoover received such gifts from Bureau personnel as well as friends and admirers.  Copies of various congratulatory communications to Hoover, many enclosing gifts, and his responses are contained in over thirty boxes found in Record Group 65, Records of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (Congratulatory Letters to J. Edgar Hoover, 1924-1971, Director’s Office Records and Memorabilia).

Learn more about J. Edgar Hoover and his gifts

Web Sites With a Historical Bent Join a Place to an Image

A number of photo-sharing sites are being transformed from places to look at pictures into tools to connect historical documents and give more people a sense of history.

Most sites do not yet take advantage of location-based data as a means to search, as does. But the other collections are going to take you back in time. is clearly one of the most ambitious of these sites. It is aggressively courting local historical societies to encourage them to upload their archives to the site. Already, several hundred institutions have used the site’s bulk uploading tools to add thousands of photographs.


Read the full story at the New York Times

Have you got photos of our archives that you’d like to share?

Have you visited our reading rooms to view original NSW State archives? Did you take photos of the records? Add your photos of documents from the official NSW State archives collection to our new Flickr Group called Archives2Share NSW.

We’re trying a crowdsourcing  experiment, tell your friends!

The idea of this new Flickr group is to help make the State’s archives more accessible. Our aim is to make your Flickr images (of our archives) available through our new, experimental catalogue search tool. So when you search for a record series or item using the search tool then a relevant image from Flickr will be visible.

Example from the catalogue

Here is an example showing the front and back of a railway history card (see the Flickr images at the bottom of the screenshot)

Example from the Flickr group

Here are some items that Fiona and I have added to the Flickr group as examples. Notice there are a couple of photos in included that aren’t yet available in Photo Investigator – these are worthy candidates for the Flickr group.

Sound interesting?

In order to make this connection between Flickr and our search tool, we first need to find the relevant series or item in our catalogue to which the image belongs (more than likely you will have all this information on your retrieval slip).

Upload to the new Flickr group – Archives2Share – it’s not as complicated as it sounds

If you upload an image to this group, please add these special machine tags (add machine tags in the same way as ‘normal’ tags):

1. srnsw:series=[series number]

example: srnsw:series=12345
– this number is on your retrieval slip


2. srnsw:item=[item number]

example: srnsw:item=479518
– this number is obtained from the catalogue search result and not the retrieval slip. It is the number at the end of the item’s URL e.g.

Tag your images

Please add other relevant tags as you see fit and we will also add these to our catalogue. For example, keywords like “probate”, “shipping list”, “map”, or the names of people and places will help make these images more accessible to others. If you are feeling brave, you might try adding extra machine tags ( e.g. to specify geographical coordinates or to link to a person in Trove.

We are also using a special “archives2share” tag to keep track of our progress.

But I don’t have a Flickr account and I really want to share…

Not a problem. Flickr accounts are free and you can join in a matter of minutes. Then simply upload your images to your account, tag them and add them to the Flickr group.

If you don’t wish to get a Flickr account, you can upload your images via our contact form here on the blog (note: you can only add one image at a time).

Acceptable items to add

There is a general 30 year closure period for all records. Due to the sensitive information contained in some series of records the closure period is longer. Basically, if you view the archive in the reading room (without needing a letter of permission granting you special access) then you can add it to the group.


This is a new area for us and we hope to share our progress with you in the Discussions area of the Flickr group. We also look forward to your suggestions and feedback.

Crowdsourcing for Archives and Libraries

“There is huge potential for libraries to harness digital volunteers. Libraries need to give up ‘power and control’ thinking and look to freedom instead. Harriet Rubin, business publisher and author talking about success says “Freedom is actually a bigger game than power. Power is about what you can control. Freedom is about what you can unleash””