“Social Welfare History Image Portal”
Alice W. Campbell, Digital Outreach and Special Projects Librarian, Virginia Commonwealth University
Nominated by: University Librarian John E. Ulmschneider, University Librarian, Virginia Commonwealth University
The Social Welfare History Image Portal is a collaborative, freely available online discovery tool that increases awareness of ephemera and other archival materials related to the history of social reform and social welfare. Hosted by Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) Libraries and drawing from nine partner institutions, the Image Portal provides access to a rich assortment of items related to suffrage, civil rights, labor, public health, immigration, and public education.
The 2018 Primary Source Award for access goes to Alice W. Campbell, Digital Outreach and Special Projects librarian at VCU Libraries. Campbell serves as project manager for The Social Welfare History Project as well as numerous online exhibits for VCU Libraries. She works closely with VCU Libraries’ Digital Engagement team to create these resources.
The Social Welfare History Project website, launched in 2010, was the vision of innovative social worker John E. (Jack) Hansan, who created the site to help the public appreciate the history of social reform and social welfare services in the U.S. Research materials related to this history include the papers, records and publications of individuals, local volunteer groups, national private organizations, and the state and federal government agencies that have provided and regulated social services. The site includes links and references to key archives, libraries, scholarly websites and other sources of reliable information intended for students, scholars, and the general public.
The Image Portal, created as a companion to the website, is a networked version of a “vertical file.” It is neither a repository nor an online exhibit with an interpretive layer. It presents an array of ephemeral publications, excerpts of larger works, and interesting and provocative images from pamphlets, placards, handbills, comics and photographs sourced from the collections of VCU Libraries and participating institutions. Like a vertical file, these materials are suggestive of further avenues of inquiry and can be used to instruct students in the use of primary sources. In addition to single items, the Image Portal presents a variety of Discovery Sets—curated groups related to particular topics. Hyperlinks in the extensive item-level metadata direct users to the greater riches in partners’ collections.
The Image Portal has received over 4,000 visits since its July 2017 launch. Together the Social Welfare History Project and Image Portal receive over 1 million visitors during the academic year. Current partners include the American Labor Museum, Baylor University Libraries, Beth Ahabah Museum and Archives, Simmons College Library, Union Presbyterian Seminary Library, University of Mary Washington Libraries, University of Minnesota Libraries, and The Valentine (museum in Richmond).