(Digital Collections) A Post for the Statisticians in the Audience (Or, Who’s Been Looking at Our Stuff?)

The phenomenal success of the Browning Letters Project did more than just expose the world to the first digitized images of more than 1,400 pieces of Robert and Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s correspondence. It also exposed the server that hosts the collection to more than 1,000,000 page views in just three days! In fact, over the course of a week, the collection was accessed more than 1.3 million times by researchers and curiosity seekers from around the world, including users in the United Kingdom, Canada, Belgium, India, Singapore and New Zealand.

Here’s what that kind of access assault looks like in graph form:

Darryl Stuhr, our Manager of Digitization Projects, gathered gigabytes’ worth of data on how many people accessed our Digital Collections during the week of the Browning Letters Project’s launch. He looked at what sites referred the most people to the collection (Wellesley College’s domain, Facebook, and the New York Times were the top three, with Google and Baylor coming in in the top 10), what times of day were the most popular for access (between 10:00 am and 2:00 pm on the day of launch), and what kind of domain referred the most users (domains ending in .edu accounted for 85% of visits).

The week of the Browning Letters Project also saw residual statistical increases, like:

–       9 new fans on our Facebook page (+13%)

–       331 hits on our blog (+212%)

–       1 television news interview (+100% from previous week)

Keeping track of information like who accesses our collections, when they do so, and where they come from can help us better target where we promote our collections, when to schedule regular maintenance on our server, and even when we’re being crawled by Google’s spider bots.

Of course, numbers aren’t the only way to quantify how our collections are impacting users around the world. Take this recent quote from George Raffensperger, a direct descendant of Henrietta Hardin Carter Harrrison, whose marginalia illustrations were featured in this post.

As a direct descendant (Henrietta Harrison is my great, great, great Grandmother), I was online looking over family history and came across your post. I enjoyed viewing these sketches very much. I have read that she was a fine artist and enjoyed creating decorations at her home at Tehuacana Retreat. Her artistic ability was passed on to my mother, Ruth Harrison Wood, and my children, who enjoy drawing and painting as well.
Thanks you for sharing these.
Best Regards,

However you choose to evaluate our collections, we hope you’re checking back often, as we’re adding new content on a daily basis. As a matter of fact, here’s one last number for you: within the next few days, our collections will be home to more than 165,000 items. Now that’s a number even the arithmophobics* among us can appreciate.

* Arithmophobia is the fear of numbers, as you no doubt guessed.

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