Detroit Jewish News Foundation Website Updated To Be Quicker And Easier To Use
Visitors to the Detroit Jewish News Foundation’s William Davidson Digital Archive of Jewish Detroit History will be able to more easily access the info they’re looking for — and it will be quicker, too.
The website, djnfoundation.org, was recently upgraded to make it easier to navigate and now requires fewer clicks to enter the archive. The site also has been enhanced with a new section comprising custom biographies of community leaders and interactive opportunities for users to add their own videos, audio clips and/or text offerings to important historical events impacting the Detroit Jewish community.
This is the first major update of the site since its launch in November 2013. The William Davidson Digital Archive of Jewish Detroit History — which comprises more than 300,000 pages and 100 years of content contained in the Detroit Jewish Chronicle (1916-1951) and the Detroit Jewish News (1942-present) — receives an average of more than 4,600 page views per week, according to Google Analytics, putting it on a pace for almost 240,000 annualized page views.
“The update of the website is an indicator of the broader success of the Foundation’s work,” said Arthur Horwitz, DJN Foundation founder and president.
“The DJNF Foundation board, and its honorary board, have been pleased and humbled by the positive impact the Foundation’s William Davidson Digital Archive has had on the community,” Horwitz said.
Many people in the local Jewish community have put this free resource to work. For example, with the Foundation’s permission, the Ira Kaufman Chapel has produced more than 500 individual booklets, with content from the archive, about those it provided funeral direction for over the past year.
David Techner said his son, Chad, was intrigued by the possibilities the digital archive presented. “As funeral directors, we try to establish the legacy of the person who died,” Techner said. “What a great next step to be able to look at the person’s lifetime, from a birth announcement to their death notice and all their life encapsulated in between.”
Techner said families have been overwhelmed upon receiving the free memory books.
“A lot of the stuff they don’t remember. We highlight the name of the deceased on each page they’re mentioned in the Jewish News. Families can take a look at what else was going on at that time: from the ads to what people were wearing. It brings history to life.”
The Foundation and Dr. Howard Lupovitch of Wayne State University’s Cohn-Haddow Center will be collaborating next spring to present an eight-segment class titled “A Jewish Lens to the ’60s: A Decade of Hope and Despair” as part of the Federation’s Agency for Jewish Education’s FedEd curriculum. The Foundation’s William Davidson Digital Archive of Jewish Detroit History will be one of the primary resources used by students.
“The archive is a repository of multiple points of view on the events of the day, especially those that affect directly American Jewry, World Jewry and, of course, the Jews of Detroit,” Lupovitch said. “This vast collection will provide firsthand accounts and analysis of events that transpired during the 1960s, from vantage points that still resonate a half-century later.”
Also, the Foundation and Temple Israel in West Bloomfield are refining plans that would provide religious school students, largely in the sixth and seventh grades, with opportunities to utilize the digital archive in ways that enhance their Jewish identity and connectedness to their families, the community and their temple.
“We are excited to be working with the Jewish News Foundation and using its digital archive in our sixth and seventh grades,” said Temple Israel’s Rabbi Marla Hornsten. “This is an opportunity for our kids to dig deeper and make special connections between the generations. It is our hope they will strengthen their Jewish identity in tandem with creating and sustaining a Detroit community identity … all the while having a great time!”
Added Horwitz, “Not only is 100 years of community, organizational and family history now at the fingertips of all — fast and free of charge — but its content is linking one generation to the other.”
A Shining Example
The upgrade incorporated recommendations from users and the Foundation’s Technical Advisory Committee, which includes Sharon Alterman, Lauren Ann Davies, Troy Eller English, Ben Falik, Tessa Goldberg, Kit Greening, Arthur Horwitz, Bill McGraw, Meghan McGowan, Paul Neirink, Dallas Pillon, Lynne Standley and chair Mike Smith, also the foundation’s archivist.
The DJN Foundation’s William Davidson Digital Archive of Jewish Detroit History is setting the standard for historic digitalization projects.
Following a national search, the University of Michigan’s Bentley Historical Library recently identified the DJN Foundation’s William Davidson Digital Archive of Jewish Detroit History as the model it wanted to replicate for the digitization of the 200,000-plus pages comprising the history of the Michigan Daily student newspaper.
“When developing plans, the prime example, the gold-standard of digital newspaper archives, was the William Davidson Digital Archive of Jewish Detroit History,” said Smith, who is also the Johanna Meijer Magoon principal archivist for the Bentley. “My experience with the Davidson Digital Archive as archivist for the Jewish News Foundation was invaluable for my work here. Indeed, the Davidson Digital Archive has influenced the decision-makers at U-M who are developing cutting-edge digital processes.”
The Detroit Jewish News is looking forward to celebrating its 75th anniversary, which begins March 27, 2017, and runs through March 26, 2018. As part of the yearlong celebration, the DJN Foundation will be identifying — with the help of the community — the top stories of the past 75 years and sharing them in ways that will enable community members to add their recollections of any or all of those stories — as witnesses to history that will forever be a part of the archive.
Also, as part of its community-building activities, the DJN Foundation will soon be launching a “historic scavenger hunt” of the William Davidson Digital Archive of Jewish Detroit History. Readers of the JN will be given 10 fun clues and will be able to use the archive to find the answers. Readers will then submit their answers. One random winner from all correct responses will be chosen to win a prize. Look for details in an upcoming issue of the JN.
“This is just one way we can get the community familiar with and comfortable using the archive,” Horwitz said. “We want everyone in Jewish Detroit to understand what a treasure the archive truly is.”
With the archive, “we are standing on the shoulders of the ones who came before us and are tapping into their successes and disappointments, simchahs and heartaches — all serving to bind us closer together in ways that further strengthen our ties to Jewish Detroit and each other,” he added.
Visit the DJNF website and portal into its William Davidson Digital Archive of Jewish Detroit History at www.djnfoundation.org.
By Jackie Headapohl, Managing Editor