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Evaluating a Digital Primary Source Collection
Whether a digital primary source collection is available through a commercial vendor or freely available through a cultural institution, take time to assess what you will find in that digital collection. Here are some questions to ask as you explore the collection:
- What is the name of the commercial entity or cultural institution that compiled and published the digital primary source collection?
- If a commercial entity created the collection, what are the institutional (e.g., libraries, museums, etc.) and/or governmental origins of the primary sources in the collection?
- Does the website for the database indicate the decision-making process for inclusion/exclusion of sources? If so, what is explicitly stated as being included and excluded?
- Are the objects digitized copies/surrogates/facsimiles of analog originals, or were they “born digital?”
- What are the dates of coverage of the primary sources?
- How does browsing the database by topic differ from keyword searching?
- What types of primary source materials does the database contain on your topic?
- What are the strengths of the database and what evidence illustrates this about your topic?
- What omissions/gaps/absences/limitations exist on your topic, and why might they exist?
Digital Collections related to Native Americans
American Indians and the American West
Groups 3 and 6
This is a huge collection about Native Americans, so if your group wants to focus on one or two Native American modules to browse, that is fine - tell us in your worksheet what you have done.
Do try to do the keyword search for the entire collection.