Today’s post comes from Jessie Kratz, Historian of the National Archives.
March 12, 2014, marks the 25th anniversary of the World Wide Web. For most of that time, the National Archives has had some online presence. In 1994, the National Archives started a pilot project to make information about the agency available electronically. The project used the “Gopher protocol” (a predecessor to the World Wide Web).
Through the agency’s gopher “CLIO”—in Greek mythology, Clio was the muse of history—users could access descriptions of National Archives facilities nationwide, information on agency holdings, publications and general information leaflets, and some Federal records regulations. Text-based information was accessed at gopher.nara.gov; the original web address was www.nara.gov. The NARA in the web address comes from the full name of the agency: the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA).
The “NAIL Database” was the NARA Archival Information Locator—the first online catalog prototype of the National Archives. In NAIL, online researchers could find collection descriptions and a limited number of digital images.
In 1999, nara.gov underwent its first redesign. Among its notable features were direct links to the Presidential Libraries, the Federal Register, and the “Research Room”—the main entry point for researchers. A new search engine was also installed in 1999 to help users find what they needed in the online offerings.