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Drexel University Launches New Archival Collections Database

June 3, 2021

On June 1, 2021, the Drexel University Libraries officially launched a public portal to a new archival collections database called ArchivesSpace. The ArchivesSpace database replaces separate archives information management systems and unifies three different public access points previously used by the archival units at Drexel.

The new systems contains collection guides (or finding aids) for archival collections from the Drexel University Archives, the Legacy Center Archives and Special Collections at the College of Medicine, and the archives at the Academy of Natural Sciences

Previously, collection guides for each of the University’s archival units were stored in separate internal systems and were available online in separate locations making it difficult to search for and find information about Drexel’s cultural and historic artifacts. Now, clients can search across the University’s archival and special collections by keyword, date, name, and other useful terms, all in one place.

Bringing all of this information about our collections together into one database strengthens connections and collaboration between the University’s archival and special collections units,” said Sarah Newhouse, Digital Archivist for the Drexel University Archives. Newhouse played an integral role in launching the new public access database and helped coordinate efforts across the different units involved with the project. “And more importantly, migrating all these collection guides to one single system makes it so much easier for researchers, genealogists, and alumni to find archival materials relevant to their projects and questions. Now, you only need to go to one place to search everything we have to offer, and this new system has some really exciting functions to help users zero in on interesting historical materials quickly.”

A screenshot of the new Drexel Archival Collections Database.
A screenshot of the new archival collections database.

This database brings new functionality to Drexel’s online archival collection guides, including: 

  • Search or browse across the collections of the College of Medicine, Drexel University and the Academy of Natural Sciences
  • Search or browse collections from one archival unit: For example, search for materials from the Academy of Natural Sciences archives
  • Search within a specific collection: Use the search box on the right side of a collection’s finding aid, as seen on the Hahnemann University African American collection finding aid
  • Browse collections by subject or name: For example, browse collections related to Dr. Guy Grady Garrison, Dean of the Graduate School of Library Science, baseball, and taxidermy
  • Search results now include individual folders and items within collections (when available) to help researchers find relevant material faster

Like a library catalog, which contains descriptions of books and other print resources, this database contains descriptions of archival materials only. It does not contain digitized images of archival materials.

The Drexel University Libraries is also working to replace iDEA, the University’s digital repository, with a new system that will improve accessibility and discoverability of the University’s digitized archival materials. Watch for a future announcement over the coming weeks! 

For more information about how archival collections are organized (and thus how they appear in this database), watch a brief tutorial, or view the webinar Using the Drexel Archives’ Online Collections Database. 

For more information about a collection, to request a research appointment, or to request digitized materials, contact Drexel archivists:

Not sure who to contact? Email Drexel University Archives at University Archives staff will forward your question to the appropriate department.