The MoA II Digitization Management Database

The MoA II database was developed with Microsoft Access and is one of suite of programs designed for the production of MoA II objects. The database includes a series of applications that manage the digitization process and allow for the collection of structural and administrative metadata for such disparate archival objects as photographs, albums, diaries, ledgers, and daybooks. Structural metadata describes how these objects are organized, and administrative metadata describes how the various digital files that make up MoA II objects are related. Once the digital production is complete, and metadata has been recorded in the database, another program extracts the metadata and creates MoA II objects, encoded by an XML DTD.

The objects that we are dealing with are all hierarchical in nature. Photographs have 2 sides, both of which could have information we might want to record. Albums are generally made up pages, and the pages may contain items of various kinds, like photographs, clippings, letters, smashed flowers, captions, etc. Diaries are made up of pages, which contain entries (dated or not), and the entries can span pages. As one can see, these structures are different. In addition, the structures of subobjects of a given object type can vary as well. The database allows for all this variability and complexity. A given object is defined as a hierarchy of subobjects. For instance, an album object would have associated page subobjects, a page subobject could have associated item subobjects, and an item like a photograph could have side subobjects, and a side could have detail subobjects. All of this can be captured in the database in the form of structural metadata.

Once the structure of an object is defined, any subobject can be a candidate for some kind of digital processing, like imaging, transcription or both. For instance, suppose a hand written letter is attached to a page in an album. We could produce one or more transcription files for it. We could also digitize it as a master archival image and then produce other image versions at various resolutions for display (e.g., thumbnails, etc). The MoA II database supports this concept of master and derriviatve versions. In addition, since these images are associated with subobjects, it is possible for a program to add the image references to the encoded MoA II object.