Collections Conundrum

The Naval Academy Class Ring kiosk has been a longstanding intended project primarily researched by Mr. Gregg Overbeck, a US Naval Academy (USNA) 1969 graduate and museum volunteer. I am very lucky that Gregg has been so dedicated and transferred a fairly complete research project. Since my project is focusing on the actual ring, their owners, and their context in history, Gregg’s work is critical to the textual portion. He placed the images he found in a Microsoft Word document, which made for a wonderful presentation but created issues when I began attempting to upload. Therefore, the bulk of the images currently uploaded onto my Omeka site will have to be redone. Naturally, my hope is to utilize as many US Naval Academy Museum (USNAM) records and items as possible. In the coming weeks I plan on scanning any pertinent documents and photographing multiple angles of each ring. I also want to take advantage of other resources within the Naval Academy if the museum does not have certain documentation. For instance, for any graduate that is buried at the Naval Academy Cemetery I plan on linking to their inventoried burial plot pdf file.

Trying to wrap my head around the collection organization was a tall order. Since items can only be attached to a single collection, it was hard to pinpoint my primary navigation route so early in my project. After trying to map my collections I decided to organize by year since alumni are primarily interested in classes surrounding their graduation. When inputting new items I found that working backwards from tags and files helped organize my thoughts before diving into the Dublin Core fields. In class we talked about how the categories are somewhat subjective. I created my own definitions for any fields that were not straightforward enough that I plan on using.

Subject: The graduate who owned the ring.

Source: Original source, in most instances the donor.

Publisher: The platform from where it was pulled, likely the museum or special collections.

Creator: Who made the item originally, such as Tiffany Jewelers.

Contributor: Any researcher, or the photographer of the ring.

I also waffled between adding more inputs under source (combining donor and platform item pulled) and not using publisher. I understand that the more categories used tends to increase the metadata’s usability, so that is why I want to continue using publisher and additional fields as I get more information. In that same vein, I was playing around with whether or not Dublin Core’s category fields looked better all in one field or by adding input to create multiple fields. How do multiple fields within a category change the metadata’s capabilities?

Tagging is another navigation route I started to use. I like how Omeka automatically makes searching or browsing by tag possible.  I plan on standardizing  by only allowing one spelling/format for tags. So far I have been plugging in class year, last name of individual, and the wars or conflicts they were involved in.

After comparing how I am organizing my “collection” to the sample born digital archives and our readings I recognize that my project falls under the grouping of like materials instead of collections. As a museum we have a number of collections in the archival sense, but we do not have comprehensive collections to describe the primary focus of my project: class rings and their owners. Therefore, I must pull from a variety of sources to create the aforementioned groupings.

Comparatively, the Baltimore Uprising website is literal in its archival documentation. Under the collection tree or browse collections tab, the items all fall under an individual donor’s collection. The similar items list is somewhat comparable to tagging, but the non-standardized wording makes this listing unnecessary and inapplicable to other posts. The Hurricane Digital Memory Bank also falls under the true definition of an archival collection, but has better options for searching non-linearly. I see my project following the Hurricane Digital site because of its additional organizational routes and variety of media options.


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