The beta version of the Web's first graphical browser, Mosaic, was shown on campus in December 1993. Immediately after that, I began looking for a collection that would become our first website. At the time, the Southwest Jewish Archives was a small archive administratively part of the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences College. It's founder and director, Abe Chanin, had built a small collection of photographs found in archives located in Texas, New Mexico and Arizona. Mr. Chanin had also written and collected books on the Jewish pioneer experience in the U. S. Southwest.
What began a photo scanning project evolved into a website featuring images of pioneer Jews. At that time World Wide Web was largely unknown to educators and the general public. The Archives, with it's collection of photographs and manuscripts, made an excellent resource for the Web.
During the first year of its development, our initial concept expanded from putting a number of images online to featuring the Jewish pioneer experience, e-text versions of the Archives' quarterly newsletter, and an exhibit on Synagogues of the Southwest. A suggested readings list, links to related websites, a section on Crypto-Jews and Jewish religious objects were also added to further the website's educational purpose.
A comprehensive re-design of the SWJA website became available in May 1998 and additional design improvements were added in October 1998. In November 1998, the finding aids were completed and added to the website. In the Fall of 2000, the website developed a new section to support the efforts of the local chapter of Kulanu, All of us and a year later an extensive re-design by Mike Martelle, a graphic artist and web designer working at the UA. In addition, a new section was unveiled: Oral Histories. That design was finally replaced in July 2012 by one created by Casey Ontiveros of the UA's Office of Instruction & Assessment. Casey's new banner image (above) was inspired by images of stained glass windows in the website's synagogue architecture section. Casey also developed the new way of displaying images in the pioneers section, an enormous improvement over the previous SWJA website versions.
Stuart Glogoff, (revised July 2012)