How to resuscitate 50,000 pages of archival material within a website focused on a Chicago-based women's and labor rights pioneer?

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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.

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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.

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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.

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