Reviewed April 2014
Diana Harter, Humanities Department Assistant
Harold B. Lee Library, Brigham Young University
diana_harter@byu.edu

Womens Wear Daily Archive brought to you by Proquest is a full-text database of the fashion publication Women’s Wear Daily (WWD) from 1910 to the latest complete year. Issues are digitized cover to cover, including articles, advertisements, and images. The database uses high-resolution Flash images of all pages.  For those who are familiar with ProQuest’s Vogue Archive, it is similar in terms of content and search usability.

Screen Shot 2014-04-02 at 9.14.23 PMRobust browsing and search functionalities enhance access to rich content. In the embedded e-reader, issues can be browsed cover to cover; and even in search results, users can browse forward and backward in the issue. The Advanced Search interface enables one to further refine a query by “document type” (front page, obituary, runway, etc.) or “document feature” (photographs, cartoons, references, etc.); categories like product/company name and supplement provide content-specific indexing. Unfortunately, WWD does not offer a thesaurus nor a subject search; there is a “find similar” search feature which could meet limited needs. The default view is a Flash image; in order to see search terms highlighted, the “full text” format must be selected.

Like all ProQuest databases, search result delimiters include a bar graph of the timeline divided by decade and the amount of search results found. Because WWD Archive is so focused in content and subject, this bar graph feature becomes a useful visualization of when the term was most relevant in the hundred year span of the publication, drilling from decade, year, and month, down to the day.

However, glitches with image load time, display, and digitization quality interfere with user experience. Happily for visual research, all the images are high-resolution; however, there are inconsistencies in load time as confirmed when tested on different computers and different internet browsers. Another usability issue occurs when viewing the two page spreads: it is difficult to read the image because one has to zoom in and then move the viewer around to read an article. Finally, it is clear that issues from 2012 and earlier were scanned in because there is a crease in the center where the original issue was folded. It is distracting to the whole image and, in some cases, affects readability around the crease.

Despite some usability issues, WWD Archive is a formidable, historical record of the fashion industry, and beyond its core audience of fashion and apparel professionals, it will appeal to researchers across a broad spectrum of the arts, humanities, and social sciences.