Archives Strengthening Historical Narrative: Sharing Digital and Linked Data Resources for Broader Reach and Sustainability

Mark Coffey, Texas Coastal Bend Collection, USA, Alan Watts, Texas Coastal Bend Collection, USA, Duane Degler, Design for Context, USA

Published paper: Archives strengthening historical narratives: Sharing digital and linked data resources for broader reach and sustainability

Private collections provide engaging windows into little-known subjects that, when made discoverable, are incredibly relevant to many diverse audiences. The Texas Coastal Bend Collection (TCBC) is a digital-first private collection that offers rich insight into the culture of the Texas Coastal Bend ranching communities, starting with the Irish immigration in 1834. The site’s topic-based framework immerses people in the region’s cultural history. Rich, well-structured metadata (subjects, people, places, historic events, relationships) allows every page to be a gateway for exploring over 200 artistic photographs, 9,000 images, archival documents, books, maps, genealogies, and 1,400 hours of oral history.

We describe the strategies and tools that enable rich exploration of the TCBC’s unique resources, its maintenance by a small dedicated staff, and how meaningful digital connections with other institutions can foster storytelling across an array of subjects. The digital approach that underpins the TCBC, incorporating highly structured categorization, linked data, IIIF, and a unique audio player, provides insights that can be used by other museums and archives.

This talk is valuable for people who manage historic and/or archival collections that aspire to be online, and institutions that plan to create shareable online digital resources that can be connected with other institutions’ collections. It provides insights into ways that oral history and images can be used to assemble flexible topic-based narrative structures, and, it provides insight into technical and curatorial approaches, so others don’t have to “start from scratch.”

Mike Jones. "Artefacts and archives: Considering cross-collection knowledge networks in museums." MWA2015: Museums and the Web Asia 2015. Published August 15, 2015. Consulted September 29, 2017.

Elizabeth Hansen and Madeline Moya, Texas Archive of the Moving Image. “In Next Week’s Episode…: Serializing the Online Exhibit.” Museum Computer Network presentation. 7-Nov-2015.

Design inspiration: Touchpress. As seen at: “Mobile Crit: Apprentice Architect, Fondation Louis Vuitton + Touchpress.” Museums and the Web Conference. 10-Apr-2015.

Information architecture inspiration: Duane Degler and Neal Johnson. “How and when to use LOD? Starting your institution's conversations about Linked (Open) Data.” Workshop at Museums and the Web Conference. 8-Apr-2015.

IIIF, the International Image Interoperability Framework.

Museum and archival collection models being monitored as they evolve: Museums – Linked.Art ( Archival – Records in Context Conceptual Model (RiC-CM:, Portland Common Data Model (PCDM: