Women's Worlds in Qajar Iran

Women's Worlds in Qajar Iran

About Women’s Worlds in Qajar Iran

What is the Women’s Worlds in Qajar Iran (WWQI) project?

WWQI is a website and digital archive of materials related to the lives of women during the Qajar era, including writings, photographs, financial and legal documents, art work, and objects of daily use. The project’s team of researchers identifies relevant materials from both private collections and institutions around the world. The project then digitizes the materials according to the specifications laid out by Harvard University, and makes them publicly available in searchable form on the WWQI website.

How do you define “Qajar Era”?

We use the term “Qajar era” in a broad sense, which is inclusive of the period immediately preceding and following the dynastic period (1786 -1925).

Where do you keep the actual objects and can I view them?

Women’s Worlds in Qajar Iran is a virtual archive. It does not physically hold any of the objects displayed in the archive. Please consult the repository records for further information on the physical location of objects.

Can you provide me with contact information for the owners of these objects?

Women’s Worlds in Qajar Iran is not authorized to provide additional information not included on the website or act as an intermediary between owners and website users. However, you can send us your contact information at wwqi@fas.harvard.edu, so we can pass it on to the owners to contact you directly.

I own some materials that I would like to include in your archive. What do I do?

Email us at wwqi@fas.harvard.edu and one of our researchers will promptly contact you to make the appropriate arrangements.

Can I still support the project even if I don’t have any materials relevant to the archive?

WWQI depends on the financial generosity of private donors to raise funds to support the on-going acquisition, digitization and preservation of archival materials. Additional funding is also needed to support the translation of selected texts into English to help make the archive accessible to a wider audience. If you or anyone you know would like to donate, please go to the “Donate” link.

About conducting research on the WWQI website

What are the different ways I can browse and search for materials?

From the Homepage, you could begin your search either by clicking on “Collections” or on “Browse”.

  • Click on “Collections” to go to a list view of all our collections. Click on any collection to go to its full page, which provides more expansive catalog information and a direct link to “Browse this Collection”.

  • Click “Browse” to browse and search the full archive by choosing a particular genre of documents, or by selecting particular Subjects, People, Places, or Periods. In each case “View All” will take you to the full list of that category. Within a selected category, you can use the right navigation bar to refine your search by selecting additional categories revealed by your selection(s) or remove categories to return to earlier results.

  • Another search route would be by entering a keyword in the search bar on any page to find items that match your search terms. Resulting matches can be further refined through the right navigation bar.

All roads tend to lead to the search engine, where you can refine your search with keywords and filter selection.

Do I get the same results if I search in English or Persian?

We use the ElasticSearch full text search engine which supports both English and Persian language-specific searches. While the results should be consistent, the results may vary slightly in terms of relevancy ranking.

What transliteration system is used for Persian names and places?

The spelling of people and places often reflect authority records and may therefore be presented in unusual or unfamiliar form. The transliteration convention adopted on the website is based on a simplified form of the ALA-LC Romanization Tables for Persian used in the majority of online library databases, including the Library of Congress. If a name or place search produces no results, try alternate spellings or use a wildcard.

How do I properly cite an item?

Citations should reference Women’s World in Qajar Iran, the URL of the digital object, and, if applicable, the repository that holds the original, along with any descriptive information displayed with the item, such as:

  • name of author/creator

  • item/collection/record group title

  • folder title, if applicable

  • item description

  • call number, if applicable.

How do I download or print images?

The “View This Item” link on any item page will take you to the Harvard Digital Library image delivery system for that item. Textual items will be displayed with a full range of access, download, and printing. Visual material will show the image. You can download the image using your browser’s options. If you need a higher resolution quality of a document, please contact: Thomas A. Lingner / Customer Service Manager / Patron Services & Preservation Services / Harvard Library / tel: (617) 495-3995 / email: lingner@fas.harvard.edu

About the technical aspects of the WWQI website

What software do I need to view the website?

A modern browser is recommended such as Firefox, Safari, Chrome, and the latest versions of Internet Explorer.

What technology is behind the website?

The website is split into three parts:

  • The Curation Site

  • The Static Publication Engine

  • The Search Engine

The Curation Site is where the WWQI Curators catalog and manage all the information relating to the hundreds of items in the many collections on this site. It is built as a traditional Ruby on Rails application using the Postgres SQL database as a data store, and is hosted on Heroku.

The Static Publication Engine builds the various search indices, graph indices, and static html representations of the data contained in the Curation site. For Search, we use the powerful ElasticSearch. Built on Lucene, ElasticSearch allows us to provide fast, full-text search across both the English and Persian languages. Further, it allows us to tune the relevancy rankings to include full-text search of the many transcriptions and translations in the archive.

In addition to ElasticSearch, we also use Neo4j to provide a semantic graph index of the data in the archive. This allows us to use the powerful Cypher language to query the archive for semantic information such as “How are these two items related” and “What people are connected to this item in some way?”

Finally, the Static Publication engine generates the static HTML5 representation of the site as you see it now. We host these static files using Amazon’s CloudFront Caching service, which allows us to provide very fast delivery of rich content around the world.

The Search Engine provides a user interface to the ElasticSearch and Neo4j engine. It’s built with Sinatra, Postgres, and is hosted on Heroku.

To see a 15-minute video on the benefits and structure of the new site and the importance of the graph techniques that will be used over the next stage of our site development, visit us on Vimeo.

To learn about the history of the development of the website design, visit WWQI on the Behance Network.