The Making of America II: Towards a Standardized Architecture for the Digitization of Primary Sources

  1. 1. Jerome P. McDonough

    Library Systems Office - University of California Berkeley

  2. 2. Merrilee Proffitt

    Research Libraries Group, Bancroft Library - University of California Berkeley

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The Making of America II: Towards a Standardized
Architecture for the Digitization of Primary Sources

Library Systems Office University of
California at Berkeley

The Bancroft Library Unversity of


University of Virginia

Charlottesville, VA





The primary resources in the nation's research libraries, which constitute an
invaluable foundation for research, are increasingly viewed as resources for
teaching and learning for students in elementary school through college. The
geographic distribution of such collections added to the fragility and
uniqueness of many primary source materials have always presented barriers to
access. Digital technologies offer opportunities to overcome these problems of
geographic distribution and fragility of primary sources by making digital
surrogates of the materials available on the Internet where they can be used by
scholars, students, and the general public.
The Making Of America II Testbed Project See <> for details regarding
the MoA II project. (MoA II) continues and extends research and
demonstration projects that have begun to develop best practices for the
encoding of intellectual, structural, and administrative data regarding primary
resources housed in research libraries. It builds most directly on the
development of the Encoded Archival Description (EAD) (EAD Working Group, 1998),
now being maintained jointly by The Society of American Archivists and the
Library of Congress. While the EAD provides a community standard for encoding
finding aids, it does not provide any guidance for creating or encoding the
digitized surrogates of the primary source materials which may be contained in
collections. Therefore, the next step in the process of developing seamless
access through EAD-encoded finding aids is the development of related community
practices for creating and encoding the digitized versions of the primary
The MoA II project proposes a Digital Library Service Model in which services are
based on tools that work with the digital objects from distributed repositories.
A digital object is defined as encapsulating content, metadata and methods. Our
hope is that the MoA II project can serve as a first step towards the
standardization of digital objects' content, metadata and methods. We believe
that such standardization will vastly reduce the effort needed to develop tools
and services that work with materials from different content providers.
The MoA II object model defines classes of digital archival objects (e.g.,
diaries, journals, photographs, correspondence, etc.). As expected, each object
in a given class has content (e.g., ASCII text, TIFF images, SGML documents)
that is a digital representation of a particular item. In addition to content,
any given class of archival object also encapsulates descriptive, structural and
administrative metadata used to discover, display, navigate, manipulate and
learn more about a particular object's management information. Finally, a class
of archival object will encapsulate a variety of associated methods, where the
methods are used by tools to retrieve, store or manipulate that object's
To support this model, the MoA II project has implemented has three major
components: (1) a database system for capturing metadata regarding digital
objects, and encoding that information in XML format; (2) a program which will
take that XML metadata description for a given archival object and produce a set
of Java class files that incorporate the metadata and methods necessary to
manipulate the metadata and content of the object (Jones, 1997); and (3) a
browser for selecting objects for display and navigating within those objects.
In combination, this system allows archives to track their work flow in creating
digitized versions of primary source material while simultaneously capturing
associated descriptive, administrative, and structural metadata, encapsulate
that information in object format for dissemination, and present those objects
to users in a manner that facilitates the objects' navigation and use. Further
information about each of these tools, including the DTD for the XML format and
a demonstration version of the object browser, are available at the MoA II web
site. Development of a test digital library using these tools is currently being
undertaken by the MoA II project teams at Cornell University, New York Public
Library, Pennsylvania State University, Stanford University, and the University
of California at Berkeley.
The MoA II system architecture as currently implemented has demonstrated the
feasibility of the object model for providing access to digital versions of
archival material, as well as providing an initial suite of tools for creating,
disseminating and using such digital objects. By establishing an XML DTD
describing the necessary metadata elements for production of such digital
objects, the MoA II project has attempted to help start the discussion of how
such digital objects might be standardized. The project has also identified some
potential areas for further research, including the best mechanisms for encoding
the complex relationships between object content and descriptive, structural and
administrative metadata, how we might standardize document display mechanisms
for scholarly use, and whether we might be able to standardize application
program interfaces (APIs) for interacting with digital archival objects. We hope
that the development of the MoA II system will encourage other members of the
archival community both to begin exploring the process of providing access to
digital versions of their materials, and participate in efforts to help
standardize the implementation of such materials in order to ease the
development of tools and services for archive patrons.


Encoded Archival Description Working Group, Society
of American Archivists

Encoded Archival Description Document Type
(Version 1.0) [On-line]


Society of American Archivists

Available on the World Wide Web: <>


Java and Libraries: Digital and Otherwise

D-Lib Magazine

Reston, VA
Corporation for National Research Initiatives

March 1997

Available on the World Wide Web: <>

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Conference Info

In review


Hosted at University of Virginia

Charlottesville, Virginia, United States

June 9, 1999 - June 13, 1999

102 works by 157 authors indexed

Series: ACH/ICCH (19), ALLC/EADH (26), ACH/ALLC (11)

Organizers: ACH, ALLC

  • Keywords: None
  • Language: English
  • Topics: None