By Nancy Heywood, Digital Projects Coordinator
Selections from MHS’s two most important collections, the Adams Family Papers and the Coolidge Collection of Thomas Jefferson Manuscripts, are now part of the Google Arts & Culture website. This website is administered by the Google Cultural Institute, a non-profit initiative founded in 2011 that partners with cultural organizations to “bring the world’s cultural heritage online.” [Read more about the Google Cultural Institute here: https://www.google.com/culturalinstitute/about/partners/.]
When MHS was approached by a coordinator of the Google Cultural Institute in the late summer and asked to contribute content about U.S. Presidents for the American Democracy Project, MHS staff realized there were many benefits of having our collections showcased within the Google Arts & Culture web delivery system. Highlights of the Society’s extraordinary Adams and Jefferson manuscript collections are now available to users who browse and search the content Google is hosting from about 1,200 significant museums, archives, and cultural organizations.
MHS’s main website has thousands of presentations of documents from our Adams and Jefferson materials, and the first challenge was to figure out what specifically to contribute to Google’s recent project. The Google content management system features items as single digitized images and online exhibitions featuring those digital items. Given limited production time to assemble the online content, we decided to focus our efforts on creating two online exhibitions–“The Private Jefferson” and “From Diplomats to Presidents: John Adams and John Quincy Adams”.
For “The Private Jefferson” online exhibition, Laura Wulf, Production Specialist, worked from the publication, The Private Jefferson: Perspectives from the Collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society, the companion to the recent MHS exhibition. It features selected letters written by Jefferson, pages from manuscript volumes, architectural drawings and sketches, published documents, and engravings.
Neal Millikan, Digital Projects Editor, and Amanda Norton, Digital Projects Editor (with input from their colleagues within the Adams Papers department) crafted an informative narrative for the exhibition “From Diplomats to Presidents: John Adams and John Quincy Adams.” This exhibition presents key documents and quotations about the extensive careers in public service of John Adams and his son, John Quincy Adams.
The MHS digital team (Laura Wulf, Peter Steinberg, and I) assembled all the digital components (images and associated metadata), loaded them into the Google web delivery system, and used the exhibition editor tool to assemble the online exhibitions.