Monday, December 16, 2013

Fed Reserve Timeline: 11,000 Artifacts, 100 Years

Drawing on 100 years of history, The Federal Reserve has organized some 11,000 facts, biographies, images, and essays into a single timeline. I find it well-written but sprawling. Your perception will depend on whether you want to read fairly long pieces on key events such as the financial crisis of 2008, complete with bibliographies and endnotes (I do), and whether you feel that such factoids as Ben Bernanke's service as a Board of Education volunteer in Montgomery Township, New Jersey, seem relevant or extraneous to his Fed chairmanship (a bit much, but it humanizes him). Of course, that's just a postscript to his biography. 

The home page, shown here, is deceptively simple. Top-level navigation includes Events, People, and Purpose; there's also a search box and a drop-down menu for "Trending Searches," which today includes Janet Yellen (no surprise). Interior pages can be maze-like.

All in all, it's a valuable corporate history timeline model for long-standing organizations with reams of material to showcase. And for anyone researching or writing speeches in the financial services realm, the essays will be useful. 

Kudos to The Fed for organizing its history at all. "Looking back at our historical experience provides important insights to economists, historians, and policymakers about how the Fed can best meet its objectives, today and in the future, to promote a healthy economy and stable financial system," Bernanke said in a press release. The announcement says that Fed also plans to update the site regularly. It's "
part of a broader effort by the Fed to mark its anniversary year of the centennial," and it will be interesting to see how that unfolds.