Omohundro Institute of Early American History & Culture

Leading Early American Scholarship Since 1943

Uncommon Sense

The following is from the Uncommon Sense archives. It first appeared in the Summer 2008 issue, no. 125.

Omohundro Online

Faithful readers of Uncommon Sense will probably recall that this column used to be titled “JSTOR Report.” JSTOR is only one aspect of OIEAHC’s technological endeavors, however, and as the new title indicates, this space will henceforth detail our evolving attempts to keep pace with digital expansion. This change is one of several during the past year reflecting digital technology’s increasing importance in our day-to-day operations. The most significant such change, noted in our previous number, was Kim Foley’s transition to the role of Institute Webmaster. For years Kim, who was formerly the WMQ Office Manager, struggled to maintain the Institute’s online presence in addition to other duties. Now the “Institute Online” can absorb all of her time and creative energy!


Readers may remember from our last number that WMQ recently joined JSTOR’s new pay-per-view Publisher Sales Service Program, under which anyone can purchase individual WMQ articles they find through Google searches, whether or not they have a JSTOR subscription. Currently, only about 18 percent of links into the JSTOR database through Google are successful—that is, go through to the database—meaning that a lot of people without institutional access are interested in looking in articles in JSTOR. The Publisher Sales Service Program is one attempt to increase the percentage of links that are successful. Even though it has only been a little over a year since the program got up and running, its success has already exceeded expectations. More than 1,000 individual WMQ articles were sold in 2007 through the program. And the data for the final quarter of 2007 and the first quarter of 2008 show that it is not just enabling access for interested readers in the United States. Though the vast majority of purchases were made from the United States during that period, there were a fair number from the United Kingdom and Canada and at least one each from Australia, Belgium, Bermuda, Dominica, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Poland, South Africa, Spain, Turkey, Uganda, the United Arab Emirates, and Uzbekistan.

During the last few years, JSTOR has been interested in expanding access to its database beyond the borders of the United States and has seen some impressive results. Its successful efforts to increase access in Africa, which have been mentioned before in this space, continue; there are 222 participants in 33 countries now, up from 1 in 2000 and 37 in 2005. Meanwhile, JSTOR participation is also expanding in Asia, where there were 17 participants in 2000 and there are now 530, and in Central and South America, where there are currently 275 participants, up from 7 in 2000 and 77 in 2005. More than 50 percent of JSTOR participation is now outside the United States, and JSTOR’s new collections development projects reflect this international focus. In addition to incorporating more international journals into the archive, JSTOR is developing or is interested in developing new types of content that bring to users’ desktops important resources for research into various cultures: nineteenth-century American art journals and auction catalogues going back to the seventeenth century; early-twentieth-century Latin American art journals; nineteenth-century British pamphlets focusing on parliamentary debates; and the Ireland Collection, possibly the first in a series of regional collections, the next of which may focus on India.

Finally, if you’re a JSTOR user, you’ve probably noticed that the Web site has a new look. JSTOR’s new interface has been in development for two years, and the site now offers improved browse and search capability, simplified printing, and more efficient navigation. Other new features include the ability to search within result sets; improved image searching; thumbnail views of article pages under “Select Another Page,” allowing the entire article to be seen at once; and MyJSTOR, a personalized account that allows the saving of citations over multiple sessions. JSTOR is always interested in user feedback, so if there’s something you particularly like or dislike about the new Web look, don’t hesitate to share it. The JSTOR Support Team can be reached at or (888) 388-3574.

History Cooperative
JSTOR’s original mandate was for journal archiving, not for the display of current content. For online versions of WMQ issues since 2001, therefore, users turn to History Cooperative, another nonprofit organization dedicated to housing history scholarship online. The History Cooperative supplies the full text of current issues of the William and Mary Quarterly and twenty-one other history journals online to subscribers. Subscriptions to the current Quarterly include the print edition as well as access to History Cooperative, which can be reached through our Web site. Currently, History Cooperative presents articles in HTML format, meaning that the article is presented as one page of text through which users can scroll, not in PDF format, which presents the article as a series of images of the original print pages. It is, however, considering adding PDF format, the format used by JSTOR, to its site as well.

Recently, JSTOR became the History Cooperative’s newest executive partner, a relationship that JSTOR will cultivate by adding some of the journals that work with History Cooperative to its own archive and creating additional links between the two databases. Obviously, the Quarterly is already included in the JSTOR archive, but linking the two databases will benefit users by enabling them to discover current as well as older content through a JSTOR search. So Quarterly subscribers who have access to both JSTOR and History Cooperative will be able to search the entire run of the journal at once and link to articles of interest housed in either database.

WMQ Web Supplements
Many readers may not realize that for several years WMQ has been using its Web site to transcend the limitations imposed by print’s two-dimensional space. Since 1999, certain WMQarticles have been accompanied by digital supplemental materials—materials that cannot be accommodated by the medium of print but that enhance or augment an article’s content—available through (click on the “Supplemental Materials” link). This online space provides several benefits. It enables us to house supporting materials for which there was not sufficient space in the print (and hence History Cooperative) issue: in the past these materials have included spreadsheets, tables, and transcripts or translations of original documents not readily available. And the Web can supply certain materials in a more dynamic and helpful way than print can; good examples of supplemental pieces that take advantage of the Web’s power are the maps that accompany Jon Parmenter, “After the Mourning Wars: The Iroquois as Allies in Colonial North American Campaigns” (January 2007). Moreover, in an academic environment that stresses the importance of interdisciplinarity, these supplemental materials have been invaluable in supplying it in a method that print cannot achieve. For example, readers of Elizabeth B. Crist’s April 2003 article, “‘Ye Sons of Harmony’: Politics, Masculinity, and the Music of William Billings in Revolutionary Boston,” can hear two of the tunes Crist discusses through the Web site. Though it would have been possible for interested readers to find and listen to this music on their own, the use of supplemental materials makes it easy to obtain access to important pieces of Crist’s evidence. In future, new supplemental materials will be featured in WMQ Editor Chris Grasso’s “Quarterly Notes” column in Uncommon Sense.

Ghana Conference Video
One of the new digital features that helped to make Kim’s life so hectic last year is the video of the August 2007 conference in Ghana, which is available on our Web site at If you haven’t done so already, please take a look. Thanks to Kim and to Steve Mason, Jamie Nabers, and Josh Fuller of Media Concepts, Roanoke, Virginia, for all the hard work they put in to make the conference proceedings readily accessible to all.

OIEAHC Web Site Redesign
Our own new Web look, another product of Kim’s diligence, has recently premiered. We hope the totally redesigned site will make it easier to find whatever you’re looking for.

Meg Musselwhite
Assistant to the Director