Building an Archive

Building an archive is crucial in the study and research of history, as “the bulk of historical work continues to be anchored in archives,” (Trevor Owens). The beauty of archives is that they allow historians to “have access to an ever-expanding wealth of digitized versions, or digital surrogates, or a selection of primary sources through online collections,” (Trevor Owens). Archives come in many different “shapes and sizes” such as “massive federal agencies, small local historical societies, manuscript collections at research libraries, [just] to name a few examples,” (Trevor Owens).

Omeka is a database that allows for the standardization of digital objects, with the Dublin Core Metadata Initiative being the most commonly used standard available for Omerka users. When building a collection on Omeka, it’s important to fill in the required metadata in each Dublin Core field provided. The Dublin Core Metadata Initiative description fields include the title, subject, description, creator, source, publisher, date, contributor, rights, relation, format, language, type, identifier, and coverage.

To start my collection, I added various images that represent early historical dental practice in different time periods, such as the Medieval Times and the 19th Century.

Circa 1910

This photograph originates from Circa 1910, and it represents the pain patients endured during the time period where the dental field lacked the complex machinery that we have in today’s society. This image can be used in my final project to recapture the horror and struggles patients and dental workers faced when undergoing what is now known to be a simple tooth extraction. This picture would be useful to represent how through the development of technology, dental procedures revolutionized ultimately allowing for safe and more effective delivery of dental treatment.

Teano, Southern Italy

In Teano, Southern Italy, a set of dentures were discovered made from real teeth. I can use this image to represent early dental technology and compare it to modern-day dentures’ makeup, structure, and function. I would also like to include other historical dental technologies and how they have mechanically progressed through time to help dentists with delivering the utmost dental treatment to all patients.

Evil Dentist Pulls Teeth

In early history, patients would walk into dental offices, uncertain about their well-being during and after their procedure. This image can be used to portray societal perspective on dentists in early history before technology revolutionized the dental field. This will show how crucial the involvement of new technology in the dental field is, and how it has significantly enabled the safe delivery of dental treatment for all patients.

The first African American Female Dentist

Ida Gray Nelson Rollins, DDS, was the first African American female dentist born in 1867. I would like to use this photograph of Dr. Rollins to represent her great accomplishments and contributions to the dental field. She was one of the first practicing dentists in Chicago, serving the underserved community until she retired in 1928, and I want to mark this in my final project.

Medieval Dentistry

The image above shows a group of people invested in the dental procedure taking place in front of them. I can use this image to foreshadow the increased curiosity in the dental field among the people of the Medieval period. I can show how this curiosity has molded dentistry into its most complex and advanced form today.

Link to Omeka:


DCMI Usage Board. (2020, January 20). DCMI Metadata Terms. Retrieved on October 26, 2021, from

Library of Congress. Personal Archiving. Digital Preservation. Retrieved on October 26, 2021, from

Omeka Classic. Working with Dublin Core. Omeka. Retrieved on October 26, 2021, from

Owens, Trevor. (2015, December 05). Digital Sources & Digital Archives: The Evidentiary Basis of Digital History. User Centered Digital Memory. Retrieved on October 26, 2021, from

One thought on “Building an Archive

  • November 2, 2021 at 1:18 pm

    Hi Lina! Just wow, your post takes the cake on delivering digital history and analyzing the change over time within the dental field. Your images and sources are superb, in both historic value and presence in a certain time period. It is somewhat of an understudied field in human societies and I look very much forward to your finished product! I also agree with you that archives, and of course digital archives, are the building blocks and the academic backbones of historical endeavours!


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