The King-Crane Commission collection website offers a number of methods for searching and navigating the digital collection to facilitate research: keyword quick search, advanced search, subject, geographical and work type searches. Each of these methods have respective advantages and disadvantages. For example, keyword searching is a powerful tool, since it is universal across the entire collection, and nearly all metadata fields for each item. But metadata cannot provide comprehensive descriptions, meaning that many search terms may return few or no results, even if some documents in the collection do touch on the desired subject. Additionally, searches for isolated keywords can make it difficult to discern the relationships between individual records.Users interested in more complex and specific forms of searching can use "Advanced Search". The default option is for keyword searches across all fields. In order to open more options, click "Selected fields". Here, users can select and enter search terms in as many or as few metadata fields as they wish.
All methods for searching are built on the metadata that accompanies each item in the collection. Metadata serves three core purposes:
- Describing what is depicted by an image, or discussed by a document
- Providing an array of search terms for structured navigation
- Recording the physical archival repository of each item
When performing searches in the collection, several key metadata fields are most likely to produce positive results. Work type (AAT) is useful for helping to find specific types of materials. For example, selecting work type (AAT) and searching "photographs" is an easy method of isolating and viewing only images. For documents, there is a broader range of terms in this field. Some of interest may include "letters," "maps," "memorandums," "telegrams," and "petitions."
Two other key metadata fields are built on pre-determined vocabularies from the Getty Research Institute: spatial coverage (TGN) and subject (AAT). Spatial coverage (TGN) provides terms for the geographic area depicted by a photograph or discussed by a document, on several levels, including: individual cities (e.g. Damascus; Jerusalem), nations (e.g. Syria; Turkey), and historical regions (e.g. Palestine; Mesopotamia). (For a discussion of TGN terms, please see the Notes on Terminology). Searches on the level of nations tend to yield better results.
The Subject (AAT) field was applied exclusively for photographs, using the Getty Art and Architecture Thesaurus, a vocabulary intended to describe the subjects depicted in images. Its ability to describe more complex aspects of the social and cultural setting is limited. Although terms such as "Christianity" and "Islam" are included, it is unable to distinguish between "Sunni" and "Shi'a" for example.
Notes on Terminology
Metadata input for geographic location in the King-Crane Commission Digital Collection relies on the Getty Thesaurus of Geographic Names (TGN), using the names and boundaries of contemporary units. In many cases, states are used (e.g. Lebanon, Syria). By TGN standards, the names of states are accompanied by the designation of “nation” (e.g. “Syria (nation)”). However, to accurately represent the area’s status at the time of the commission, “Palestine (historic region)” is used. In the case of documents regarding Jerusalem, the term “Jerusalem (inhabited place)” is used. For photographs in the collection, subject headings are derived from the Getty Art & Architecture Thesaurus, while document subject headings draw on the Library of Congress Subject Headings system. These are fixed vocabularies intended to facilitate searches for specific individuals, themes, and historical events; the selection of terms are not intended as political statements.
If you have questions or feedback, please contact the Oberlin College Archives.