- Boston Symphony Orchestra Archives
The Boston Symphony Orchestra Archives website currently contains digital scans of concert programs from 1881 to 2011, and over 2,000 photographic images. This online presentation, which uses OCLC’s CONTENTdm platform, 1documents the activities of the Boston Sym phony Orchestra (BSO) as well as the Boston Symphony Chamber Players, the Boston Pops and Boston Pops Esplanade Orchestras, the Tanglewood Festival, and the Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra. Although the orchestra’s physical archival collection also includes correspondence, press clippings, posters, musical instruments, and recordings, these formats are not represented online on this site at this time. However, the website does state that expansion of its digital collection is in process, 2and some of those materials are represented on the orchestra’s main web site. 3
Embedded within this site is a separate performance history search interface called HENRY (named after the orchestra’s founder, Henry Lee Higginson), which allows users to search information on performances from 21 October 1881, through the current season. Its database is updated on a monthly basis. The development of HENRY was funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.
It is worth noting that the BSO Archives site’s URL is http://collections.bso.org, but HENRY has a separate URL, http://archives.bso.org. These address names have the potential to confuse users.
On the main page of the BSO Archives section (http://collections.bso.org), there are links to the two collections—Images and Program Books—with a brief description and a scrollable thumbnail image gallery for both. Above these are a search box with an option for Advanced Search, links to the About page, HENRY, and Browse All.
Clicking on the respective collection link brings up a landing page that, like the main page, features a rotating gallery of thumbnails and a description of the collection’s contents, and in addition presents a section of suggested topics to browse. On the right side of the page is a static grid of recently digitized items, and a handy RSS link so that users can be notified when new items are added to the collection.
The Browse All link brings the user to a table of thumbnails, but its main function is as a search page for the collections, which will be discussed below. It is easier to browse and get a better sense of what is available through the suggested topics list.
One suggested link on the Program Books page is the program for the first BSO concert, held on 22 October 1881. 4The item can be viewed as multiple PDF files with an Adobe Acrobat plug-in. There is also a tab to view as text, which is an unedited Optical Character Recognition (OCR) text file. Next to this tab is a text search box. As OCR text files often have [End Page 591]some scanning errors, executing a word search within the program page can be hit or miss. The document scans, however, are of excellent quality, and can be zoomed in or out using Adobe’s tools.
Each page of the program is its own PDF file, and thumbnails of each file is in a vertical tray on the right side of the Web page. A Content tab is also located at the top of the tray, which simply supplies links to each PDF file as text, rather than as thumbnail images. The link names are not descriptive, however; each file is only known as “seq. 1,” “seq. 2,” and so forth.
Options are available to view the program book in page-flip mode and with the PDF and text files presented side by side for comparison. There are also buttons for downloading the entire program book (as a multi-page PDF), and printing either the current page or the entire book. A page or book can be saved to a Favorites folder by clicking on Save Page or...