Digital Archive Collections at the University of Hawai'i at Manoa Library
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Digital Archive Collections at the University of Hawai’i at Manoa Library
Created and maintained by the University of Hawai’i at Manoa Library.
Reviewed April 3–25, 2012.

Although it does not provide an estimate of the amount of material in its online holdings, the Digital Archive Collections at the University of Hawai’i at Manoa has thousands of scanned documents, photos, and illustrations. The content of the Web site is divided into five areas: “Multi-subject and Rare,” "Asia,“ "Hawai’i,” "Pacific,“ and ”Online Exhibits,“ although the links for this last category did not work when I visited the site in April 2012. The content of each category is eclectic, ranging from Hawaiian-language newspapers and fire insurance maps in the ”Hawaii“ section to images of Okinawa during World War II and magic lantern slides in the ”Asia“ section. The “Multi-subject and Rare” section includes the Donald Angus botanical prints and the Jean Charlot collection of murals and sculptures, while the ”Pacific" section contains Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands photos and the Jack Tobin Marshall Islands anthropology collection. Overall, this online archive tends to focus more on images than on documents. The site also includes data about individual pieces and uses current scholarship to provide contextual collection information that is neutral rather than interpretive.

Charles V.E. Dove, Map of Honolulu: Prepared for Husted’s Hawaiian Directory, ca.1892

The Digital Archive Collections does not provide a uniform design for all of its material, although many displays do have the same layout design. Generally, under the “home” link, each collection is introduced with statistics about the number of photos, texts, and total images in the database. The introductory page also contains links that allow the viewer to browse by document type, title, or category, or to search by key word. An “about” link provides additional collection information. At the level of the individual item, the archive includes information such as descriptive titles, captions, notes, document type, category, dates, measurements, and call numbers (where appropriate). Despite the pages of individual collections having different designs, all were easy to navigate. The only difficulty I encountered was with the Bob Krauss research index, which allowed me to search by subject headings but did not allow me to print my search results.

The Digital Archive Collections serves both researchers and a general audience interested in the history and material culture of Hawaii and the Pacific region. Because the collections are eclectic and mostly focused on the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the archives will serve the limited number of researchers who are interested in the available materials. It would be helpful if the site provided a sense of the overall scope of the archival collection, the percentage of it available to the public online, and a timeline for posting more materials by subject area. This would allow researchers to have some idea when they might be able to access materials of interest to them. As seen in the comment sections of many of the collections, the archives also serve a general audience interested in genealogy.

Overall, the Digital Archive Collections makes good use of digital media, allowing researchers to access remote collections that are clear to view and easy to use. While the site has limits, as a whole it provides a fascinating glimpse into the collections at the University of Hawai’i at Manoa.

Jennifer Fish Kashay
Colorado State University
Fort Collins, Colorado