University of Minnesota
Immigration History Research Center

Immigration History Research Center's home page.

News Release Jul. 14, 2003

Erik Moore, Immigration History Research Center, (612) 624-8353,
Joel Wurl, Immigration History Research Center, (612) 625-4800,


COLLAGE (Collections Online: A VisuaL MateriaLs of American ImmiGration and Ethnic History), the Immigration History Research Center's online searchable database of digitized items from its photograph, print, and manuscript collections, is marking its first anniversary with an enhancement of its search capabilities for particular digital images by ethnic group or genre.

Launched in June 2002, COLLAGE includes over 500 photographs and other archival materials representing over thirty different ethnic groups, with descriptive information for each image.  This digital documentation creates an opportunity for researchers, teachers, students, and the public to access these unique materials on the Web.  Online items include images of home life, social activities, and work scenes as well as letters and publications, all relating to the immigrant experience.

New on the COLLAGE search page, directly under the keyword search box, a link titled "Ethnic groups for keyword search" takes the user to a listing of all the specific ethnic groups featured in the digital collection.  The user is able to see immediately what ethnic groups are represented and copy and paste or type the specific ethnic group into the keyword search box for their search. Another new search feature allows users to limit their search by genre.  COLLAGE users may search across all types of materials or they may choose from the genres listed: photography, manuscript, illustration, and text.

Also new on the search page under the "Subjects" list, a link to additional subject terms is available for the entire database.  By copying a subject term into the keyword search box and choosing "Subject Search," the user will retrieve every record in which it occurs.  Searches can also be qualified by date, by entering the earliest and latest years for a span of materials or by selecting particular decades from the choices shown.  A link to tips on searching the database is located to the right of the of the search button.

COLLAGE is stimulating research through building a digital collection, developing online tools to aid in its use, and supporting broad access through the Web.  It provides public access to primary sources for K-12 education, facilitates undergraduate research in immigration studies, and encourages the continued documentation and preservation of the immigrant experience using digital technologies.

Since going online, over 8,500 people have visited the COLLAGE database on the IHRC website to search for images.  This averages nearly 25 visitors a day from around the world.  An uncounted number of additional users have accessed the online images via the University of Minnesota's University Libraries Digital Collection Unit through its own IMAGES project, a campus-wide initiative to produce high quality, standardized digital images and to promote their discovery, of which the IHRC is a contributing partner.

Support for COLLAGE comes from a generous $250,000 award administered by the National Park Service and the National Trust for Historic Preservation's joint heritage preservation program Save America's Treasures, a public-private partnership between the White House Millennium Council and the National Trust for Historic Preservation.  Save America's Treasures stipulates that additional funding be raised to help expand the project over the next several years.  This ensures that as more materials are selected, from the IHRC's archives and other collections, and user interests are defined further, the number of images and educational resources available online will increase.  An earlier grant from the University of Minnesota's College of Liberal Arts Infotech Fees Committee enabled the Center to create a foundation for the project.

Founded in 1965, the IHRC, a unit of the College of Liberal Arts located on the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, campus, is an international resource on American immigration and ethnic history.  The IHRC collects, preserves, and makes available archival and published resources documenting immigration and ethnicity.  The Center also produces a wide array of programs and publications aimed at fostering greater understanding of the immigrant experience.