History Matters Archive

 


How to Use the Archive

The History Matters Archive is vast, and can be a bit daunting at first. This and other help pages can help you get started. This page describes general features of the Archive and ways in which it can be used:

Ways of Accessing the Archive
Browsing the Archive
Viewing Documents
Viewing PDF Documents
Listening to Audio
Help is Available


Ways of Accessing the Archive

Browse - You can browse the contents of the Archive "by agency" (documents and other holdings are classified by the agency which released the document, which is not always the same as the agency which created it). Click on browse by agency in the brown sidebar to the left to get started. You can then follow links down and back up the hierarchy of collections, and click links to view document pages, listen to audio, or view photographs.

Use "list of holdings" shortcut - A lengthy listing of the collections in the Archive is available via the list of holdings link in the brown sidebar to the left. This can be faster than browsing if you know what you're looking for (and where it is).

Follow links from essays - The essays on this site are rich in links to source materials present in the Archive. When you click on such a link in an essay, your browser view is transported to that page of the Archive. To get back to the essay, use your browser's Back button (you may have to hit it several times if you have browsed a few pages).


Browsing the Archive

If you click on the browse by agency link the brown sidebar on the left, you are taken to the Archive's "top-level" table of contents page. This page lists various agencies and investigative bodies: Warren Commission, House Select Committee on Assassinations, CIA, etc. Click on any of these to go to a page which is the top-level page for that agency. On any page but the "root" page of the Archive, note that there are return to links which can be used to return back up the hierarchy to the root contents page. Not only is there a link to the "parent" contents page, but there are links to each level back up to the root. Thus you can easily jump back up to any level.

At some point, you will reach a level where the contents page contains not links to further contents pages, but rather links to documents, audio clips, and photographs. These "leaf" contents pages (using the tree analogy) feature pale yellow and white stripes in their listings. Also, many of the entries feature a red-and-white PDF icon the right of the link, which can be used to view an alternate form of the document.

Clicking on a link on a "leaf" page takes you to a page which features a scanned page image, along with various links to change pages, return to the contents page, view a printable version of the page, and so on. Use the Prev and Next links to advance forward and back through the pages, or use the numbered page links to jump around more freely. The next section describes this in more detail.


Viewing Documents

Each document available in the History Matters Archive is available in two formats. The default format, accessed by clicking on the links in the Archive's contents pages, is individual scanned page images. These present a single GIF or JPEG image of a page, along with navigation elements surrounding the page. The navigation elements include the standard title bar and tabs at the top of the screen, for navigating to any place on this web site. Below these are the following elements in a yellow border area above the scanned page:

  • First row: Document title on left, page number on right.
  • Second row: Links to nearby pages on left, links to previous and next pages on right.
  • Third row: Return link back to contents page

Use the page number or previous/next links to access different pages of the same documents. When you are done viewing the pages of any document, using the return to link to go back to the contents page. From there, you may view other documents, move back up to any level in the document hierarchy, or use the tabs in the brown sidebar or atop the window to move to another area of the site.

One other feature of the scanned-page images is an addition to the blue row of tabs near the top of the window. Clicking on the printable page link there takes you to a page which features just the scanned page image, with no navigation buttons or other frills around it. You can then use your browser's print function to print that page. To print multiple pages at once, you must view multi-page PDF documents (see below).

The second form in which each document is available is Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF). These can be accessed wherever the PDF icon appears. The next section describes how to view PDF documents.


Viewing PDF Documents

Virtually all documents in the History Matters Archive are available in two forms: as individual scanned page images, and as Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF) multi-page documents. The section above described browsing the Archive and viewing scanned page images. This section provides introductory material about the other format, PDF documents.

Adobe PDF documents feature higher-resolution page images, searchable text, and useful viewing controls. They are viewed using the freely available Adobe Acrobat Reader, which is very likely already present on your computer. PDF-based documents thus are higher-quality and offer features not available via the default scanned-image pages. However, this power comes at a price. Because the PDF documents are higher-resolution and include multiple pages per document, they are larger in file size than the individual scanned pages. Many PDF documents are over a megabyte in size, and some are more than 5 megabytes. Using a 56K modem, a 1 megabyte PDF file takes about 4 or 5 minutes to download.

The lengthy download time is not quite as bad as it sounds, as the first few pages of the document are available for viewing while the remainder of the document is downloaded. PDF documents also may be printed in their entirety, saved to hard disk, emailed to a friend, etc.

A separate help page, using Adobe Reader, provides more information on how to use the Adobe viewer to make the most of PDF-based documents.


Listening to Audio

History Matters features dozens of hours of audio recordings. The include relevant phone calls of President Lyndon Johnson, witness interviews conducted by the House Select Committee on Assassinations, and recent interviews conducted by the Assassination Records Review Board. Look for the speaker icon on a contents page to see if there is audio available . If so, clicking on the icon will take you to a page which features a summary of the audio along with links to listen to the entire segment and often smaller excerpts from it.

A separate guide called listening to audio has more information on audio formats and troubleshooting and problems that may arise in dealing with audio.


Help is Available

See the troubleshooting help topic if you are having problems that this tutorial hasn't resolved.