The digitization of archival collections has become ubiquitous in the modern age. Contrary to the prevalence and popularity of these virtual collections, they are not without their limitations. Archivists have not sufficiently addressed the relationship between digital surrogates and their original objects. This article reviews a project undertaken by the authors who examined forty-two digitized archival collections from seven midwestern states. The study sought to determine whether digital surrogates include sufficient metadata to enable the viewer to understand that the virtual object is a representation of a physical object, that the physical object may be accessed, and that the physical object is part of a larger collection. The article concludes that the metadata fields used to describe digital surrogates vary across repositories, as well as within the institutions; and that very little metadata provides strong connections between the virtual images and the physical materials they represent. The authors conclude by providing recommendations for how archivists might improve the linkages between digital surrogates and their physical counterparts.

You do not currently have access to this content.