MVAR Recap 2/21/2013

Yesterday was the most recent meeting of the Miami Valley Archives Roundtable (or, MVAR), an informal gathering of archivists in and around Dayton, Ohio. This time, we met at the Heritage Center of the Clark County (Ohio) Historical Society.

Heritage Center, 2 Oct 2011

The Clark County Historical Society’s Heritage Center on a much warmer, sunnier day (photo by me, 2 Oct. 2011)

Our hosts were curatorial assistant Natalie Fritz, curatorial technician Mel Glover, and director of collections Virginia Weygandt. There were 20 people in attendance.

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As MVAR Chair, I started off the meeting with a couple of announcements—really, follow-ups from our previous meeting (11/15/2012) and the subsequent survey I sent out afterwards asking for input about creating an MVAR web site and collection membership data.

The response to the idea of a web site was almost entirely positive, and as a result, I created a free WordPress site for MVAR in December. So, now we have an official web presence for the Miami Valley Archives Roundtable! The URL is: http://miamivalleyarchivesroundtable.wordpress.com/. The site currently consists of the upcoming meeting dates & locations, as well as a list of upcoming relevant conferences. (I suppose one could argue that these little updates I write might go on there instead of here, now, but I’d rather like to keep them as “unofficial” records of the meeting, so I’m not sure they belong on the group’s “official” site.)

The second announcement was actually more of a non-announcement: Basically, that I have not made any further effort to collect data for a membership list, so no, you didn’t miss that email/memo/form/etc. I haven’t had a chance to go any further with that just yet!

After the announcements, we did the institutional reports.

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The institutional reports consist of each person in attendance taking a turn, stating their name, position, and institution, and sharing a little bit about what they have been up to lately, archives-wise. (The label “institutional reports” may make it sound formal, but it’s really not!) Here are some snippets from the reports that I hope my peers won’t mind my sharing:

I, Lisa Rickey, MVAR chairwoman and an archivist at Wright State University Special Collections & Archives, shared several bits of news, most of which seem to pertain to the upcoming 1913 flood centennial–which, honestly, is not that surprising, considering how many flood projects I have swirling (ooh, bad pun) in my head (and on my desk) at the moment.

I am currently working with a couple of our public history grad students on two related 1913 flood projects: an archival resource list (it’s going to look different soon but here’s the link anyway for now) and a virtual gallery (using Flickr). We just sent invite letters out to area organizations about these today, so hopefully many repositories in the area will contribute to help make them successful. We have a few submissions already, but we’d love more!

I’m also working on a series of blog posts to be posted during the days of the actual flood centennial- letters and diary entries posted day-by-day from 4 different flood survivors whose manuscripts are now in our collections at WSU– so watch for that on the WSU Archives’ Out of the Box blog the last week in March. We’ve also created a special 1913 flood section of the WSU SC&A web site to aggregate all the various 1913 flood stuff listed in various places on our web site (manuscripts, exhibits, blog posts, etc.).

In other WSU-blog-related-but-not-1913-flood-related news: our Dayton Daily News Archive blog more than doubled its previous high (of about 500) on single-day site views on February 9th (with nearly 1,300 views!). That was the weekend of Winter Storm Nemo that pummeled New England, and I noticed the news and weather crews kept referring to “the Blizzard of ’78.” Well, I guess it got lots of people curious, because they were Googling “Blizzard of 1978″ — and our DDN Archive blog post on the “Blizzard of 1978″ is the first hit on Google for that search term (even above Wikipedia)! Over 1000 of those 1300 views on Feb 9th were for the Blizzard of ’78 entry.

In other non-blog news, our University Archivist Chris Wydman was interviewed by the WSU Newsroom for an article about the history of the WSU tunnel system. A day or two after that, Channel 2 (WDTN) brought a film crew in to ask him about it, but so far, we have yet to see that footage anywhere.

And finally— good Lord, I am long-winded this time!—in personal news (OK it’s still career stuff but specific to me, not WSU), I will be giving a session on “Promoting your Collections Online” at the Ohio Local History Alliance’s Region 7 Meeting in Wapakoneta on March 16th. And I am also writing an article for the spring issue of the Society of Ohio Archivists’ newsletter Ohio Archivist about the various 1913 Flood commemoration activities.

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Okay, enough about me…seriously. Here are some snippets from the other attendees’ institutional reports:

Jennifer Gerth of the Marianist Archives told us about a very interesting reference question she recently answered (aka a family mystery she helped solve!). She also told us there will be an upcoming exhibit for the flood centennial: Hope on the Hill: Marianists and the 1913 Dayton Flood.

Gillian Hill, Joan Donovan, and Robin Heise, all at the Greene County Records Center & Archives, told us some fascinating stories from the slave emancipation records they are working with. They have been transcribing them and hope to do a digitization project with them in the future.

Cindy Manz, former (retired) records manager at the Miami Conservancy District, told us about a family photo scanning project she has undertaken for a friend.

[That prompted me to also share about the home movie film indexing project I've been doing on my grandfather's films, which we had digitized in December. Should be very helpful, and thankfully most of the 30+ films are only 2 minutes long!]

Roger Lucas, a representative with Indoll Dayton (filing, storage, and record conversion solutions), has been working with the WSU circulation desk renovation. He also mentioned that there may be several used high density mobile shelving units coming up available soon for a low price—at which statement many ears perked up!

Tina Ratcliff, records manager at the Montgomery County Records Center & Archives, told us that — surprisingly — few of the county records seem to even mention the 1913 Flood. (They’ve looked!) How strange!

Virginia Weygandt, Mel Glover, and Natalie Fritz, of the Clark County Historical Society (our hosts for the meeting), had lots of good news to report. They were recently able to repair a leak in the roof, and an office that had received some water damage was in the process of being repaired. (OK, so water problems are never good news—but getting them fixed certainly is!) They have just finished up an OHRAB-funded project to re-house probate court records; they’ve filled 200 banker boxes with over 8000 folders in the course of 2 years. They even won an OHRAB Achievement Award for the project in 2012 (see photo below)!

Natalie OHRAB

Natalie showing us the OHRAB Achievement Award they recently won for their probate court records project.

They also recently received a grant of $3000 from NEH for some new boxes. In exhibits news, they currently have an exhibit up called Newsweek 1983: Revisiting the American Dream, for the 30th anniversary of a 1983 Newsweek magazine article that put a spotlight on Springfield as representative of America in general. A dramatic performance “Spotlight on History” also accompanied the exhibit opening on Feb. 15. They will also be holding their annual “Night at the Museum” event on March 9th.

Betsy Wilson, who writes house histories and researches historic properties, told us about a really interesting home she’s currently researching, as well as an architecture research project she has in the works.

Galen Wilson, of NARA, is currently working on a team charged with rewriting federal records retention schedules. He also serves on the OHRAB and mentioned that there’s still time to apply for one of the 2013 OHRAB grants. Then he shared a great anecdote about “deaccessioning” some of his personal papers.

Bill McIntire is “the new Lisa (me)” as reference librarian/archivist at the Dayton Metro Library, where he started in January, after having been the DDN Archivist at WSU. He said he’s still learning the place.

Jen Haney is also getting used to her new job as “the new James [Zimmerlin]” at the Warren County Records Center & Archives, where she recently started as the records manager. (James accepted a position as records manager at CareSource, though he has been around to help Jen with the transition.) Jen said that, among other things, they are working on adding some search capabilities to the web site.

Gino Pasi, one of my fellow archivists at Wright State University, talked about the 1913 Flood traveling exhibit we recently started sharing with the public. The exhibit opening on January 24th was a great success. He also told us about an ongoing project with the Five Rivers MetroParks, who have enlisted volunteers to help them gather and organize their records, as well as select materials for their 50th anniversary celebration (this spring), before sending those materials to the WSU Special Collections & Archives. As collections manager, Gino has been working with them on the project.

Collette McDonough, archivist at the Kettering Foundation, told us about some really interesting photo processing projects she’s been working on recently. She also said that she is looking for a volunteer to help re-house photos, but there’s a possibility that the position might eventually become paid.

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After the institutional reports, we went over the list of relevant upcoming conferences, which you can find on the “Relevant Conferences” page of the new MVAR web site!

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Future MVAR Meeting Dates (you can also find these on the MVAR web site under “Upcoming Meetings”):
May 16, 2013: Jamestown Opera House (Jamestown, Ohio)
August 15, 2013
February 20, 2014

We still need hosts for all of the above meetings except the May meeting. If you want to volunteer to host a meeting, please contact me! Otherwise, take your chances, because if nobody volunteers, I will have to start cornering people individually with cold calls! :-)

Also: I used to not put the locations on here, but according to the survey from November, people don’t seem to think it’s a problem to go ahead and post the locations publicly online. I guess nobody’s worried about crashers, or mass murderers with an axe to grind against all archivists everywhere and looking to take several out in one shot. (Some imagination, right?) Anyway.

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Next was the tour. I had been to the Clark County Historical Society’s Heritage Center museum and archives a few times before, but it had been a while. They showed us around some of their storage areas, including showing us examples of the probate court records– some of the re-housed ones, as well as some of the not-yet-re-housed ones (see photos below).

Mel showing a BEFORE probate record

Mel showing us a probate record that has yet to be re-housed

Mel AFTER probate record 2013-02-21

Mel showing us one of the re-housed probate records

Clark Co Archives reading room

The library and archives reading room at the Clark County Heritage Center

We also checked out the archives reading room (see photo above).

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After the tour, we had lovely box lunches from a local bistro. They were pretty tasty— especially the dessert!

And so another great MVAR meeting came to a close!

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