Introducing revamped Fermilab History and Archives website

Many of us have heard of Felicia the Ferret and know at least something of the origins of the farmhouses in the Village. But did you know that from the beginning of what was then called the National Accelerator Laboratory, lab leadership took a strong stance in favor of equal rights and antidiscrimination or that E-36, the Small Angle Proton-Proton Scattering experiment, was the first experiment to run at Fermilab, achieving the required 100-GeV beam on Feb. 11, 1972?

You can learn about these topics and more on the newly revamped History and Archives website. In fact, the site offers something for everyone, according to Lab Archivist Valerie Higgins, who, along with Jean Reising and Karin Kemp of CCD’s Information Resources Department, recently overhauled the site.

Comb through the Fermilab History and Archives website to learn about Fermilab’s history, explore its digital collections or even enjoy an art exhibit.

The modernized website includes all the old content, but it has been reorganized into a more user-friendly format with additional content.

“The website was created many years ago,” Higgins said, “and the overall structure wasn’t changed as new content was added. We wanted to overhaul the structure to make it more usable and intuitive.”

In addition, the project team wanted to bring coverage of the history to the present.

“There wasn’t much coverage of the lab’s history past the discovery of the top quark,” Higgins said.

The updated website, which began as part of the laboratory web modernization program, includes historical coverage of the Main Injector, neutrino research and more.

The meat and potatoes of the website is the Historical Information section, which contains mostly articles from lab newsletters organized by subject. In addition to expanding the subjects covered, the project team added more contextual information and made the source and dates of the articles more prominent. The Digital Collections page hosts the full-text-searchable Village Crier and FermiNews archives, and now also links to other collections of useful digital materials such as the Fermilab photograph database and Fermilab Technical Publications Search. The way the site has been restructured will make it much easier to expand in the future and add new categories.

Perhaps reflecting its subject matter, work on the History and Archives website has been a long time coming. The sheer number of articles and the complexity of the old site structure made this a time-consuming endeavor. The need for an upgrade was identified in 2017, and work started in 2018 and has continued off and on since.

The project team first determined the proper structure and identified what content needed to be added. Higgins researched and wrote the new material. The bulk of the work involved reformatting and transferring the site’s thousands of archived articles and media. Karin Kemp did most of this work, primarily by hand. Jean Reising designed and structured the content for the site and made sure everything functioned properly. And all three conducted countless reviews. Andrea Self, a former lab employee, also contributed to the early days of the project.

If you’re a history buff, you can explore finding aids for the Fermilab Archives’ collections, oral histories from lab employees, as well as information about people who played significant roles in the lab’s history. And for those less interested in history, said Higgins, the revamped site features virtual exhibits.

“For instance, we have an exhibit of the artwork of Angela Gonzales that recreates an event held during the lab’s 50th anniversary celebration.”

Truly something for everyone!

Marcia Teckenbrock is the OCIO communications manager.