Friday, March 23, 2012

10. Indiana State Digital Archives

    I continue to be underwhelmed by the Indiana State Digital Archives, in spite of glowing reviews by Family Tree Magazine (I wonder about that, too.) The ISDA site has the clunky look and feel of 1990's technology--and in the digital world that is so brontosaurus-ville.
   The Indiana State Digital Archives is not exactly a homegrown Hoosier internet effort; it's a piggyback page from Jerry Handfield (remember him?) out in the Northwest. I thought it strange on OUR site, when you go to "Related Genealogy Links," four of the top eleven are for Washington State. What's missing? How about the Indiana Genealogical Society? And the Allen County Public Library? Don't you think an Indiana government site would feature those two Hoosier genealogy heavyweights?
   The site touts their 2,850,000 records, but I have a sneaking suspicion that the bulk of those are from the Social Security Death Index--again not exactly a homegrown Hoosier database. Subtract the SSDI, and you wonder what the data count really is.
    When you do a search, you receive a page with keyed data fields, not done by any of those state employees we pay for, but by hardworking volunteers at the regular State Archives. Take a look at a search result of Spanish-American War veterans:

    Notice on the right side of the page, where it says "Image Not Available."  Care to guess how many images are available on the ISDA site? That would be right up around ZERO! Don't you think that even the notoriously penny-pinching State of Indiana could afford one image digitizer? Look at what we might get from those same S-A War files:

     These are great files to image, with tremendous genealogy potential. I know because I sorted and alphabetized the boxes at the real State Archives. Incidentally, I searched in the ISDA for James Chrisenbury to use as an example, but he's not there. I wonder why? I also tried the link to the Indiana Supreme Court database, but the link was broken. Humm...
    The Indiana State Digital Archives is a great idea and could have great value to historians and genealogists, but it's not quite there yet. Another thought: The State Library and the State Archives also have digital files on their web pages; why not put all these together and make one great and convenient Indiana research site? I'm just sayin' us Hoosiers can do better!

1 comment:

  1. Hi Ron, I found out about your blog from the Indiana Genealogical Society Blog. I didn't know about the extensive Indiana State Digital Archives until now. Thank you for your post.

    For some reason on my browser I could not see the first and larger image on the blog post.

    Regards, Jim
    Genealogy Blog at Hidden Genealogy Nuggets