The toughest part of my job may surprise you—fielding specific search requests. Want to know how many times the 54th Massachusetts Infantry is mentioned in all of our issues? How about the 6th Virginia Cavalry? I couldn’t tell you without a huge investment in time.
The root of the problem is that there has been no easy way to search our 200-plus issues archive. My predecessors, to their credit, anticipated the need, and created two indexes: one for stories and another for regiments. But they were not maintained and are now out of date. A substantial effort is required to bring them to current times. And they’re not digital native.
I’ve been concerned about how to make 40 years of content available since becoming editor.
Our first effort to address the problem was to create finding aids. We began cataloging in November 2015 and completed the work last December. The aids can now be browsed by volume and issue number in the Back Issues section of our site. Though these finding aids do not satisfy larger search needs, they do document the contents of each issue.
What we really needed was a fully searchable digitized collection. I investigated a few options early on in my tenure, but could not find a way forward.
Everything changed on Sept. 26, 2016, with an email from Robert Sedgwick, a Senior Editor at the non-profit digital library Journal Storage, or JSTOR. “I write today to invite your publication, Military Images, to join our archive,” Sedgwick stated. He added, “Participation in the archive is by invitation, and Military Images was selected after a careful review of its publication history, as well as recommendations from academic librarians and scholars.”
I accepted the offer and soon the archive of printed magazines was in the hands of JSTOR staff. They scanned and converted each page to optical character recognition, then made everything searchable on JSTOR.org. The work finished last month.
The JSTOR team has my eternal gratitude for preserving Military Images for all time.
Thanks to their efforts, Military Images can be searched by anyone, and fees apply to download stories and issues. So go forth and explore! Visit jstor.org/journal/militaryimages to begin searching. Before you do, I recommend our guide for how to get the most out of your JSTOR visit. It is available on militaryimagesmagazine.com.
Oh, and the answers to those questions? The 54th Massachusetts appears 22 times, and the 6th Virginia Cavalry makes 14 appearances. Thank you, JSTOR.
Ronald S. Coddington, Editor & Publisher
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