TITLE: American Museum of Natural History Congo Expedition 1909-1915
The Congo Expedition 1909 to 1915 Web site is produced by the Digital Library of the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH). It provides a unique and informative venue for researchers, educators and students alike. The site details the Congo Expedition carried out by AMNH scientists Herbert Lang and James Chapin from 1909 to 1915. The expedition's mission was to gather biological and ethnographic materials to be displayed at the museum. Many of these materials, along with diaries, field notes and photographs, have been digitally documented and made available to the public.
The site is designed to interest both the layperson and the scholar. "Introduction," "Readings," and "Gallery" offer an array of stimulating multimedia, including stereophonic photographs, video and audio clips, and interactive Geographic Information Systems. Many of these features require a plug-in, which may be easily downloaded. "Scientific Publications," "Search," and "Resources" primarily serve the scientific community, offering several avenues for research into the AMNH's archival databases.
The narrated slide show in the introduction provides historical context for the Congo Expedition and sets the mood for the highly interactive nature of the site. This is worth the few minutes it may require to load. Other large files in the site load faster. The Map Gallery, for instance, uses TilePic and quickly displays historical maps of Africa and the Congo Region.
The primary database is accessed through the search section of the site. The search capability is relatively sophisticated, offering nine search fields and the option to limit by material type. Among the digitized materials featured are Lang and Chapin's diaries and field notes, which have been reproduced digitally and transcribed for indexing; 2,000 of the 9,000 photographs taken by Lang during the expedition; and descriptions of more than 4,000 anthropological objects, over half of which have been photographed.
The AMNH's Digital Library should be commended on its efforts to provide a stimulating learning environment, a well-indexed and fully searchable archival database, and comprehensive bibliographies. These materials have tremendous educational, historical, and scientific value. The site however, does not meet the Priority One Accessibility checkpoints established in the W3C Web Content Accessibility Guidelines. In spite of this, the site is highly recommended for the student, educator, scientist, or historian.
Purchase College, SUNY