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Authors : Jennifer Utter, Ann Wynne
Title: Archives and Museums
Publication info: Ann Arbor, MI: MPublishing, University of Michigan Library
May 2002

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Source: Archives and Museums
Jennifer Utter, Ann Wynne

vol. 5, no. 1, May 2002
Article Type: Site Review

Archives and Museums

Through the standards set forth in Project Épée, the California State Archives and Golden State Museum website is an exemplary site. The index page has a navigation bar that contains links to an overview of the State Archives, a Frequently Asked Questions page, pertinent outside links, and contact information. More importantly, the navigation bar contains a link to the archives collections page.

The collections page contains a list of categories held in the archives collection. In turn, each category gives a brief description of the contents within that category. This allows the user to go directly to the desired section. The collection page also lists the link to the Online Archive of California, a complete and searchable database of all the state archives finding aids.

Finding aids describing the state archives collections are available through the California Digital Library's Online Archive of California. The finding aids are well organized, searchable and easy to use. The design of the finding aid allows the user to move easily between search levels and enables that person to see exactly where the search produced hits.

The more extensive linked categories, including the photograph collection, oral histories, and Robert F. Kennedy Assassination Investigation contain introductions and "using the guide" information. These three categories are extremely well organized and easy for any user to navigate.

The online photograph collection is not comprehensive but combines all cataloged photographs from other California state finding aids–creating a list of the largest and most significant photograph series in the collection. The photographs are organized by subject heading with sample subjects within the category. The photograph collection pages are well-organized and easy to use. The inclusion of a collection introduction and a "using the guide" help page only increase the ease of use of these pages.

The Oral Histories collection contains a comprehensive list of every oral history in the state archives. The introduction describes the history and development of the Oral Histories collection, as well as a brief tutorial describing how to read the entries. Entries are listed in alphabetical order by name and subject. All histories are cataloged and available through RLIN, OCLC, and GLADYS databases.

All of the histories are available for purchase. They are hardbound and printed on acid-free paper. There is a price list on the Oral Histories page. State Government Oral History Program interviews are available on microfilm by contacting the interlibrary loan department at the state archives.

The California State Archives received the Robert F. Kennedy Assassination Investigation records in August 1987. The guide lists the records and links to explanations of each subject heading. There is also an introduction to the guide that is useful and informative to first time visitors. All records, with a few exceptions, are available for research on microfilm.

Project Épée guidelines also require that an exemplary website be well designed and consistent in it's organization. The California State Archives site very easy to use. Unobtrusive and quick loading images, as well as each linked collection page having an introduction to "using the guide," further upholds the standards for an exemplary site. Continuing with the guidelines, the contact page lists the mail address and phone numbers for general information, the reference desk, and the fax number. Additionally, users can use the online form located on the contact page, as well as many of the pages contained within the site to request information form the archives staff. The internal pages also contain a link to the webmaster. Additionally, although not required by Project Épée standards, the site contains a link to the privacy statement, an important part of every website.

Overall, the California State Archives website is an exemplary site. The vast amount of information is well-organized and easy to use. Users have the ability to research on their own by being able to specifically request the needed information. Whether researching family history or studying some aspect of California history, educators, researchers, and the casual visitor will find this site informative and useful.