Société historique de Saint-Boniface Upgrades Archives Search Interface and Launches Voyageurs Contracts Database

by Jonathan Jacobsen Friday, January 07, 2011 8:25 AM

The Centre du patrimoine (Heritage Centre) of the Société historique de Saint-Bonifaceis an archive and research facility dedicated to the preservation, study, dissemination and development of Francophone and Metis history in Manitoba and Western Canada. The Heritage Centre holds more than 500 archival fonds documenting every facet of life from culture to commerce, education to politics and religion to the economy.

"The Centre du patrimoine - Heritage Centre decided to do a completely new web site two years ago. Our goal was to have a user friendly website both for the general public doing research and for the staff updating the various sections of the site. One of the main objectives was to use as much as possible the Web 2.0 features in the limits permitted by our budget and staff resources. We wanted to have those features integrated into the database search and results interfaces as much as possible," says Gilles Lesage, Directeur général of the Heritage Centre.

Archives Database

SHSB-Archives-Search-ResultsIn the fall of 2010, Andornot merged and converted various archival databases to the latest version of the Andornot Archives Starter Kit – Desktop Edition. We then created a new web interface, in French, based on the Andornot Archives Starter Kit – Web Edition. The search results include images for some records, which are dynamically generated in several sizes by the Andornot Image Handler. A selection list allows researchers to mark records of interest, then email, save or print those records, or submit them to the Heritage Center to request additional information.

Although the database and web interface are hosted by Andornot, it appears to users to be seamlessly integrated into the Historical Society’s website, thanks to tight integration between the two systems. The search interface dynamically fetches the site header, footer and navigation menu from a blank page in the Drupal content management system used by the main website and wraps it around the database search and results pages. If the main website changes, the portion hosted by Andornot will always be up to date.

The new archival web interface is available at http://archivesshsb.mb.ca/search.aspx

Voyageurs Contracts Database

SHSB-Voyageurs-ResultsThe Heritage Center also asked Andornot to develop a database and web search interface for a collection of 35,000 records of contracts between fur traders (Voyageurs) and companies engaged in the fur trade in Canada between 1700 and ca. 1822.

Further information and links to articles giving background information on the database is available here. The search interface is available in French at http://voyageurs.shsb.mb.ca/search.aspx

Search results are grouped by the name of the voyageur, showing the multiple contracts many voyageurs undertook. Additional information includes parishes of origin, hiring company, length of contract, destination(s), advances and wages, supplies, conditions of hire, date of signing, and more. Eventually the Heritage Centre hopes to be able to include digitized images of these contracts.

The database was created from a FileMaker database converted to a custom-designed Inmagic textbase.

As with the archives web interface, the Voyageurs interface is hosted by Andornot, but tightly integrated with the Heritage Center’s main website.

"We are very pleased with the quality of the database products, the special features Andornot was able to integrate, the successful seamless integration into our main website and ease with which we were able to upgrade from our previous databases to this new solution. In the short time since these applications were made available online, the comments have been very positive. We were also happy to work with the Andornot people and impressed by their efficiency, attention to our goals and objectives and courteous service." says Gilles Lesage.

We are delighted to have been able to assist the Heritage Centre to improve access to these important sets of historical records. Please contact us if you have any questions.

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