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Treasures of the Archives: Digital Archives Upgrade: The Power of Histograms

Histogram of the Chelan County Auditor, Miscellaneous Recordings illustrates the rapid increase in this record series since 1974, and also a gap in the records in 2009.

Histogram of the Chelan County Auditor, Miscellaneous Recordings illustrates the rapid increase in this record series since 1974, and also a gap in the records in 2009, Washington State Archives, Digital Archives, https://www.digitalarchives.wa.gov/.

By the time government records get to the Washington State Archives, they are not always complete. Months or years of a given records series may have disappeared in a flood or fire or simply have been disposed of by the originating agency. These gaps in a record series can frustrate researchers, who logically assume that if we have the records for 1960 and 1962 that 40was also have them for 1961--which is not always the case.

Thanks to Lead Applications Developers Michael Dwyer and Charlie Byers, users can now instantly see the gaps in our records by generating a visual aid known as a histogram. Histograms are bar graphs that illustrate how often certain values appear in a given dataset.

To use this feature, go to the Collections tab and choose a record series. Scroll to the bottom of the Title Information page to where you see “Records by Year” and click “View.”

Written by Larry Cebula