Developing the Catalogue and Database

In order to make effective use of the archive, it was necessary to build up a catalogue of its contents, and this digital archive has its origins in the simple database Richard wrote in 1985 to catalogue the documents as an aide to his own research. This database was greatly extended and elaborated by Ruth Vasey, during her PhD research and her later work on her book, The World According to Hollywood 1918-1939. We have continued to further enlarge and develop the database, and we regard it as an ongoing project. The digital archive continues to bear the traces of its origins as a researcher's tool rather than the work of an archivist or a librarian, in that its records describe documents or clusters of documents referring to the same subject, and our descriptions of the documents are uneven in the amount of detail they provide, depending in large part on our sense of the historical importance of the material in question. A significant number of the more valuable documents in the database have been transcribed, either in the" Text" field or in separate documents accessible from the record. We continue to add to the transcriptions and descriptions of documents in the archive, and to the commentary on them. We will also add to the descriptions of organizations and the biographies of people who feature significantly in the archive, and to the other academic material attached to it.

The development of digital technologies has made it possible for us to greatly enhance the accessibility of the material. With the aid of research grants from Flinders University and the Australian Research Council, we have made a frame-by-frame digital copy of the archive. As well as making the material more readily accessible, this has allowed us to index the archive's 35,000 pages. Each frame is now identified according to its location on the original microfilm: the file 04-1895, for example, is the 1895th frame on Reel 4, so that the frame numbering sequence preserves the archive in the order in which it was originally microfilmed. The frame numbers have been incorporated into the database, so that the digital images of the documents can be readily accessed from the document record.