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Detail of a drawing of Eads Bridge
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ArchivesSpace: A New Platform to Explore Archival Collections

The Julian Edison Department of Special Collections is pleased to announce the launch of ArchivesSpace, a new content management system. ArchivesSpace can be used by patrons to search finding aids and digital materials across the distinct collecting areasD.B. Dowd Modern Graphic History LibraryFilm & Media ArchiveLocal HistoryManuscriptsRare Books, and University Archives

Staff are still hard at work updating legacy finding aids, but ArchivesSpace is available for use to search or discover individual items, finding aids, or digital content relevant to one’s research or topic of interest. Currently, ArchivesSpace holds 876 finding aids which collectively contain 292,018 individual records describing the holdings in special collections. The platform allows users to explore collections in great detail through descriptive data. 

If you browse the Manuscripts collections you will find the Joy Williams Papers, which spans over five decades and consists largely of her own manuscript materials, including drafts of book reviews, essays, college work, and short stories. You can browse the various series within the collection to gain a broad overview of the materials, or you can select an individual record for more details.

The record for the typed index cards containing Williams’s notes on the 1992 PEN Faulkner award, for example, provides this description: “Placed in a wooden index card box decorated with ‘Lovely Detective Kris’ sticker from Charlie’s Angels…”

Index cards containing Joy Williams' notes.
One of the two boxes of index cards in the Joy Williams Collection.

The finding aids in ArchivesSpace also contain rich biographical and historical data about collections, creators, and subjects. For example, a search under the category of additional description of the Walter Baumhofer Collection, one of the collections in the D.B. Dowd Modern Graphic History Library, yields more biographical information about the illustrator himself.

Baumhofer was once known as “the king of the pulps,” but enjoyed a long career illustrating for some of the leading magazines throughout the 1950s and 1960s. If you browse the Baumhofer Collection, you will find some published materials featuring his artwork, in addition to some of his original paintings and sketches.

A mock up for an American magazine cover by Walter Baumhofer
A mockup for an American magazine cover created by Walter Baumhofer.

These are only some highlights of the rich descriptive information available in ArchivesSpace. There is still much more to discover in the other collecting areas: the Biedermeier Greeting Card Collection in Rare Books, the Eads Bridge Drawing Collection in Local History, the Washington University Memorabilia Collection in University Archives, and the Black Champions Production Papers in the Film & Media Archive (to name just a few).

Detail of a drawing of Eads Bridge
Detail from a drawing of Eads Bridge. From the Eads Bridge Drawing Collection.

ArchivesSpace will only continue to become more robust in the months to come. Libraries’ staff are diligently populating digital content, cleaning up legacy finding aid data, adding creators in the form of people and publications, and creating subject tags that will allow many crosswalks between the distinct holdings.

Those interested in learning more about using ArchivesSpace can reference this guide, or reach out to special collections staff directly.