Making Connections: Linking Finding Aids and Digitized Records

User queries lead to enhanced accessibility for JDC’s archival collections.

The JDC Archives provides detailed finding aids for all of our digitized collections. These resources provide detailed descriptive and contextual information for our full-text digitized historic records, dating from JDC’s founding in 1914. The finding aids are vital for researchers across disciplines searching among JDC’s 2.8 million digitized original records for primary source material pertinent to their topic.

When the finding aids were originally developed, for various technical reasons they did not include direct links to the digitized materials. We included specific language on our website to help users understand how to locate the title of the the folders they wanted and then search for those original records in the Archives database.

However, Archives staff continued to receive numerous queries from users who arrived at our finding aids, but could not identify how to access the original digitized material.  Since one of the JDC Archives’ primary purposes is to promote the accessibility of the organization’s history and impact over the past century, the department needed to quickly develop a solution to this user confusion.

Our Digitization Project Manager, Jeff Edelstein, developed a straightforward workflow in which Archives staff would manually update each file-level record in the finding aid to include the link to the corresponding digitized materials. While the initial expectations were that this update would take several months, the process proceeded much more rapidly than expected. It was achieved thanks to collaboration between the New York and Jerusalem archives branches. All of the finding aids were updated in less than two months.

Now, scholars have easier access to our extraordinary original records. For example, a researcher studying conditions for infants in the refugee camps in Cyprus for Jewish refugees can now click on a relevant  folder title–such as “Cyprus: Infants in Cyprus (Hygiene/Sanitation). 1948”–and immediately access the digitized original records.

Happy searching!