Unfortunately, I was not able to create 15 items that related to the project I will be assembling this semester. I am still waiting to receive the audio files, transcripts, and related documents from the school. This set-back required me to go back to my original post and dig up some resources on the Pamunkey Indian Tribe. This was definitely an interesting experience for me because I found the site of the fake Pamunkey chief El Bey Bigbay; and this was definitely quite the site. If you are interested in exploring it yourself, it can be found here; if you only browse, I suggest this page and this page.
Despite my set-back, this test site was a great learning experience for me. It acclimated me to the tools well and allowed me to get used to creating and using metadata! After having down this for fifteen Pamunkey-related items, I am confident that I will be able to insert the information for my project site without any concerns.
However, despite the great experience this was, I do not see my test site as a digital archive; I have to completely agree with Kate Theimer. All I have done with these items is create a collection, which does not automatically equal an archive. My items come from various sources and her argument that collecting them in this way takes them out of their larger context is too important to ignore. While collecting these pieces, I found myself careful how I labeled images on my computer and what I put in the description. My biggest concern of all was with the screen shots I uploaded from pamunkeynation.org. The entire website is a fake; it is listed as such on the official Pamunkey Tribe website (see my first post or this tribal statement for more details). What would happen if my test site was seen by someone outside of this class and thought the images from this website were valid and true? To prevent misunderstandings of items taken out of context, I included in the descriptions and tags that these facts were not true by using the keyword “fake”. On the other hand, the collection of oral history I will be assembling for online use will be a digital archive; even Kate Theimer would agree with me on this one. The collection I am digitizing is coming completely from one collection at the The Khalaf Al Habtoor Archives at Illinois College. The original tapes that Charles Frank recorded are all stored within the archive as are his original transcriptions of these interviews. The most current transcriptions of these interviews, transcribed by Dr. Hochstadt and students of the College, are all incorporated into the analog collection once they are completed. My process of digitizing them brings all the resources together and organized; making it profusely easier for researchers to find exactly what they are looking for and easily listen themselves without any extra steps. Since all of my materials derive out of one source, it is still an archive. It is the Charles Frank Digital Archive from the Khalaf Al Habtoor Archives at Illinois College.
Going into this project, I was not quite sure why digital collections (or rather digital thematic research collections to use Kenneth M Price’s term) could not be considered an archive. I also, like the scholars Theimer discusses, saw an archive as pieces that are selected. After all, not every piece can be kept or even accepted into an archive, where would they all go? Her argument and use of accepted definitions on what an archive actually is, in the analog sense, was mind opening. Going back to Price, I found his definition and discussion on the term project fascinating. When we think of an archive, do we think of it as a project? I certainly do not. However, are we not all calling what we are doing now a project? Are we calling it this because that is how it is listed in the syllabus or because we truly believe they are projects? Are we creating projects that have a specific end date or are we creating something that will constantly be evolving? I am finding myself struggling with this. I can see my project as both, honestly. I can let it have an end date of the end of the semester or whenever I have all of the collection uploaded; my site in maintenance mode only. However, I could also create a project that is constantly evolving by asking for more recent oral history input from current residents of Jacksonville, IL, as Amy suggested in the comment. If I do allow it to evolve though, my collection is no longer from one source. Do I then still have a digital archive? Questions, questions.