British Records on the Atlantic World
This series from Microform Academic Publishers includes archival materials such as journals, correspondence, official records and personal papers over a two hundred year period, all related to British involvement in the Atlantic region, including both Africa and the Americas.
Sources for this review include information publicly posted or obtained directly from the publisher, data collected by CRL staff and members, and examination of the digital collection when possible.Other sources are noted where cited.
The archival content comprising British Records on the Atlantic World (BRAW), based on microfilm sources, is drawn largely from trading documents and missionary papers. It is currently presented in 12 modules. Two additional are forthcoming.
Part 1: Records relating to the Slave Trade at the Liverpool Record Office
Part 2: American Material in the Archives of the USPG, 1635-1812
Part 3: The Papers of William Davenport & Co., 1745-1797
Part 4: Jamaican Material in the Slebech Papers
Part 5: Papers relating to the Jamaican Estates of the Goulburn Family of Betchworth House
Part 6: Papers of the Company of Scotland Trading to Africa and the Indies, 1694-1709
Part 7: Journal, Annual Sermons and Reports of the SPG, 1701-1870
Part 8: South American Missionary Society Records, 1844-1919
Part 9: Liverpool Street and Trade Directories, 1766-1900
Part 10: Early Colonial and Missionary Records from West Africa
Part 11: West Indies Material in the Archives of the USPG, 1710-1950
Part 12: The Archives of the Associates of Dr Bray to 1900
Part 13 (forthcoming): The Collected Papers of the Bolton Whitman Fellowship
Part 14 (forthcoming): Liverpool Customs Bills of Entry, 1820-1939
Metadata descriptions presented within the database for each archival collection appear to be based on Dublin Core. There are no metadata entries for individual documents. MARC records are available for each archival collection, at least for the collections in microfilm format.
Technical platform & interface
The interface follows conventions familiar to those accustomed to browsing archival collections, but even for specialized researchers it may present some logistical challenges. The BRAW collections are not grouped together in the alphabetical collections title browse list of the parent database British Online Archives, and are therefore difficult to pick out at a glance. While the publisher cites full cross-collection searching and browsing as an advantage of the interface, it is potentially confusing to those researchers who will not be able to view retrieved documents from any of the collections their institution has not licensed.
When searching an individual collection, the “go” button next to the search window is not intuitively labeled, and display of search results is not particularly convenient. While the overall number of results is displayed, one must open each selected document, where all pages remain listed, requiring scrolling to find the relevant page numbers highlighted in red. The advanced search function allows searching across all collections or just within one, but the researcher cannot limit searching to a series or selected groups of documents within a collection. One important limitation to effective text searching is the lack of transcriptions for manuscript documents. So a word search will retrieve a heterogeneous mixture of full text and title level results.
Contextual metadata is provided in the page contents window. Page images are presented using the Adobe Reader plug-in. Navigation from document to document and page to page is easiest by using the breadcrumb list at the top of the page. Clicking through within the document window would be preferable. The response time for display of search results as well as page images was not tremendously rapid when accessed for this review.
The interface supports saving just up to five “favorites” at a time, giving only metadata and the ability to email the URL. The URL is not clickable within the metadata window.
The modules can be purchased as a group with a one time payment, or separately (which includes a five-year payment option per module)
The initial five-year licensed access period includes a hosting fee and, in the case of a license to the whole series, any new collections added during that period. Thereafter a hosting fee of 5% of the list price p.a. will be charged, and new collections in the series may be added on payment of a supplement.
Direct from Publisher
|Subjects covered||British trade, colonial and missionary issues|
|Geographic coverage||Britain, Americas, Africa|
|Content types||Documents, correspondence, official records|
|P||Source formats||Manuscript and printed materials|
|P||Total titles||Currently 11 collections (3 in pipeline)|
|P||Total pages||250,000+ (November 2010)|
|P||Digital collection launch date||2008 September|
|P||Completion date||On-going series|
|P||Available supplements||Included automatically during initial access period|
|P||Browser compatibility||Y (problems observed with old versions of Adobe Reader)|
|P||Authentication options||IP address range(s) Individual username/password Shibboleth 2.0 implementation planned in late 2010|
|P||Archiving solution – master files||N/A|
|P||Archiving solution – derivative files||N/A|
|P||Availability in web discovery tools||N/A|
|P||Open URL target||Y (down to document level)|
|P||Federated searching, z39.50||N/A|
|P||Local host option||Y|
|Full text displayed||Y|
|Search full text||Y (limited to non-handwritten documents)|
|Advanced search (fielded)||Y|
|Search within results||N|
|Limit results by dates and/or document types||Y|
|Display highlighted search terms||N|
|Display snippet -- search term in context||N|
|P||Print full document||N (documents stored and retrieved as linked individual pages, also copyright issues arise in reproducing “substantial parts”)|
|P||Restrictions on use||See license for details|
|Publisher||Microform Academic Publishers|
|url ; contact email||http://www.britishonlinearchives.co.uk/index.php|
|Distributor||Bludeau Partners International LLC|
|url ; contact email||http://www.bludeaupartnersinternational.com|
|P||Subscription option||Y (See license for details.)|
|P||Purchase option||Y (See license for details.)|
|P||Multiple year payments option||Y (See license for details.)|
|P||Hosting charges||Y (Incl. in price for first 5 years)|
|P||List of purchasers available (y/n and url)||N|
|P||Sample license available||Y (Link at: www.britishonlinearchives.co.uk/signin.php)|
|P||MARC records purchase fee||N|
|P||Price tier basis||N/A|