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Author: Jennifer Utter
Title: Archives and Museums: Oregon and Washington State
Publication info: Ann Arbor, MI: MPublishing, University of Michigan Library
November 2000

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Source: Archives and Museums: Oregon and Washington State
Jennifer Utter

vol. 3, no. 3, November 2000
Article Type: Site Review

Archives and Museums: Oregon and Washington State

Jennifer Utter


Many archives and museums are now on the World Wide Web. One difficulty which faces all users of the web is the lack of common standards for reliability and authority on the WWW. It is our feeling that state archives and museums should take the lead in setting good examples, particularly for teachers who wish their students to do research in a trustworthy electronic environment. Through the standards set out in Project Épée (Exemplary Practices for Electronic Evidence) of the Association for History and Computing , every site has the ability to be exemplary. In this regular feature of the JAHC, we will focus on state archives and museums and evaluate them in terms of the standards put forth in Project Épée. Those who meet these standards will be entitled to post the JAHC seal (above), testifying to their reliability and authority. Eventually, we will form a "ring" of these reliable sites for the convenience of students and researchers.

This first installment of the Project Épée webpages review examines the state archives of Oregon and Washington. Following Épée protocols, an exemplary site should embody various standards. These include, but are not limited to, site author, how the information was collected and documented, and the overall design of the site. For a full explanation of Épée standards, please click here.


Following the design guidelines set out in Project Épée, The Oregon State Archives site is well designed with excellent graphics that complement the site while still allowing the site to load quickly and without errors. An easy to follow navigation bar located on each page organizes the site allowing the user the freedom to move throughout the pages with ease. This is particularly helpful because of the amount of information contained in this site.

Exemplary websites should also contain a link to the website author and when the pages were last updated. This is one point were the Oregon State Archives pages falter. The index page does not contain a last updated date or an identifiable author. There is a contacts page that is linked from the index page, but no information regarding the authorship of the site. In regards to dating each page, there are pages that have "last updated" dates.

There is no set form for webpages: exemplary pages should use a constant form of citation with sufficient information that the user can easily reference information contained in the site. The Oregon State Archives pages that contained researched material include bibliographical information that is constant throughout the site. Each reference is formed so that the sources can be easily found.

One final element of an exemplary site is that it must have a statement of purpose and reference as to how the information was assembled. Although the Oregon Archives pages do not contain a clear statement of purpose or how the information was gathered, the design forgives this oversight. The well-designed organization of the site indirectly gives insight as to the purpose of the pages and how the information was assembled.

With the difficult task of presenting a large amount of information in a logical and organized way, the Oregon State Archives webpages rise to the challenge. The pages are well organized and easy to follow. A comprehensive search engine also leads to the navigability of the site. With a few corrections, the Oregon State Archives webpages can be viewed as exemplary according to Épée standards.


The webpages of the Central Regional Branch of the Washington State Archives meet the standards set forth in Project Epèe. The organization of this site is exemplary. With a quick glance, users can locate the link to the information they need. The link to the Complete Collection Guide should prove to be most helpful. It contains all the relevant information is presented allowing a user easy access to such information as how to contact the archives to information regarding the navigation of the site. The research request form link is predominantly displayed allowing researchers to easily contact the archives with research requests.

Along with the request form link, everything a researchers needs to know to successfully use the archives is listed. These include the mailing address, fax number, telephone number, email address, and research hours. A list of pertinent outside links is also listed on the index page allowing users to go directly to the information they need. The Washington State Archives pages also face the problem of having to manage a large amount of data. The excellent organization of the site includes a navigation bar located on each page allowing users to easily find their way around.

Another key feature of an exemplary site is that the site author is listed, along with a reference as to well the page was last updated. Both of these items are located on the index page. The email for the webmaster is listed allowing users the ability to question the qualifications of the author. There is also a link that allows users to submit comments regarding the site. Other Epèe standards are followed as well. This is predominantly a text-based site, allowing for quick loading. The few graphics complement, rather than hinder the site.

Overall, the Oregon State Archives pages and the Washington State Archives pages merit the JAHC seal of approval after a few minor adjustments to the Oregon pages. Both sites meet and in some cases exceed, the standards put forth by Project Epèe.

Jennifer Utter