NARA staff have been developing a new digital tool that you can use to explore our records. The tool draws from over 100 million digital copies in our Catalog. And we are adding more digital copies every day. This can be overwhelming, especially to new users of the Catalog.
So we have been working to develop an interface for you to understand the scale (enormous) and organization of our holdings and to explore what we have available online (also huge, but relatively small in comparison to the total). Note that this is still under development, but we would like you to take a look at our Record Group Explorer.
The home page is a visualization of our holdings organized by the traditional archival record group, which is a grouping of records from a major government agency, usually a bureau or independent agency.
You can click on any of the blue boxes, and when you do, you are provided with an overview of the scans available online within that Record Group and links that encourage further discovery. The smaller dark blue squares indicate how much of that record group has been digitized and is available online. The goal is to help you see at a glance that even though we have so many digital copies available online, they are just the beginning point for exploration of our records.
To provide more specific information about textual records within a Record Group that have been scanned and are available online, each Record Group page includes a progress bar.
We also provide paths into each Record Group by the general types of records that are available online. Each Record Group is unique, but most of them have textual records, maps and charts, photographs, others have electronic records, audio and video records.
We made sure to let you know that we have much more work to do to make all of our records available online. And we offer a way for you to work with us to improve the findability of our records.
The Record Group Explorer continues to be a work in progress. Currently the tool is slow in bringing back records from the Catalog and we are working to improve performance. As we continue to collaborate, innovate and learn, your patience will be rewarded with the treasures of the National Archives. So try it out and tell me, what do you think?