How to resuscitate 50,000 pages of archival material within a website focused on a Chicago-based women's and labor rights pioneer?
After a wildly-successful collaboration - 1m+ visitors over 10 years - with the History of Homicide in Chicago 1870-1930 website, this project focused on creating a rich, interactive experience for an audience of historians, legal/labor/women's studies scholars, Chicago history buffs and the general public.
The story of the life of Florence Kelley - whose work included a wage and ethnicity census of the slums and tenements in Chicago; the reporting of cases and contagion in the smallpox epidemic of 1893; the enforcement of the universal primary education laws, and, most importantly, enforcing the provisions of the Illinois Factory Inspections Law of 1893 - formed the "spine" of the website experience, leading the visitor into the often-sordid and surly world of Chicago, but the body of the website was a treasure trove of documents - including photographs, government reports, court cases; dozens of out-of-print and contemporary books, hundreds of articles from 1880-1910, and nearly 50 publications pertaining to or authored by Florence Kelley...even handwritten letters.
What drove the interaction solution was the desire to allow end users to quickly and easily view documents of their choice, but also to be taken directly to a given page where a particular search term - e.g. Hart Schaffner Marx - occurred. For many visitors this was a profound experience, as they might locate mention of a distant relative - e.g. Anton Benesek. We leveraged Northwestern University's Aware Image Server technology to allow a page-by-page viewing of the documents. The Library of Congress' collection of Chicago Daily News photography from 1900-1930 provides visual richness for the experience.