Reflections on the Archives and Research Center Blog for the Historical Society of Frederick County

For my digital project I decided to create a WordPress site for the Archives and Research Center of the Historical Society of Frederick County (HSFC).  The site offers information about the Archives and Research Center, its collections, new donations, and will host collection finding aids as they are completed and verified against the actual collection contents.  I am the Research Center Coordinator for the Historical Society and I received approval from my Executive Director to proceed with the blog.

Loat's Female Orphan Asylum, now home to the HSFC.
Loat’s Female Orphan Asylum, now home to the HSFC.

I plan to post blog entries regularly based on new projects, items “found” in the collection, new accessions and my work schedule.  My goal is to write and share longer blog posts every two weeks and shorter “item of the week” posts every week.

My original plan was to create a catablog for the Archives and Research Center featuring a collection guide for the William O. Lee Jr. Collection, collection MS0080 of the HSFC’s Archives and Research Center.  I had planned to use Omeka to display the collection’s finding aid and exhibit some collection items.  The Lee Collection is the HSFC’s only collection documenting lives of African Americans in Frederick County.  It was my hope to share this valuable collection and generate interest in the archival collections of the Historical Society.

William O. Lee Jr. Finding Aid
William O. Lee Jr. Finding Aid

I decided to switch to WordPress because the platform would allow me to post my finding aids as static “pages” and submit regular blog posts. The Lee Collection was the first finding aid I posted but I wanted to broaden my focus to include as many finding aids as possible.  When I finished posting the four finished finding aids up currently, the site still felt flat.  Sharing information about the Research Center through a blog seemed like a more effective way to reach out to HSFC members, potential members, and members of the wider community.  Every week at work I “discover” new things in the HSFC collections and I felt that regular blog posts would be an excellent way to connect with the public.

My first blog post was inspired by the photograph collection of Margaret “Patsy” Culler Storm Moore.   She was a life-long resident of Frederick and had a passion for photography.

Margaret Culler Storm Moore, in the 1938 Touchstone yearbook of Hood College.
Margaret Culler Storm Moore, in the 1938 Touchstone yearbook of Hood College.

Currently, the site for the Archives and Research Center of the Historical Society of Frederick County uses the free Basic plan, which provides 3GB of storage, and does not include a custom site address, but I would like this to change.  WordPress keeps track of site visits, clicks and referrals, and I also plan to modify the visitor statistics I keep to include a “How did you hear about us?” section.  If I can demonstrate this project’s potential benefits in terms of user access to collections, and increased Research Center visits hopefully I can justify an increase in my budget next year for a paid plan.

One Reply to “Reflections on the Archives and Research Center Blog for the Historical Society of Frederick County”

  1. I am interested in hearing more about your decision-making process around not using Omeka to display the finding aid for your collection. Was Omeka able to accommodate the finding aid? Where there technical obstacles to using Omeka?

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