Tag Archives: flickr

Civil War case exhibit, Bickham’s cartes de visite album

If you are interested in the Civil War and have a few minutes, please stop by the Local History Room at the Dayton Metro Library (in the basement at Main). We currently have a case exhibit (well, three cases, actually) showcasing Civil War materials from the Dayton Collection. The exhibit will be up through the end of 2011.

This is my favorite portion of the exhibit:

Civil War Exhibit, Local History Room

Civil War Exhibit, Local History Room

The young man in uniform on the upper right is Howard Forrer; the shoulder boards were his. You’ll be hearing a lot more about him in the future. (I haven’t forgotten that I promised to tell you some Civil War stories; it’s just that they’re still “stewing” and haven’t fully formed yet.)

The copy of the Dayton Daily Journal (May 6, 1863) is the first issue published by W. D. Bickham after taking over as editor of the paper, following the burning of the Journal office by a mob in response to the arrest of Copperhead leader (and Daytonian) Clement Vallandingham. (There is actually a picture of him in the case as well; I’ll share a little more about him in another post, in a day or two.)

Last but certainly not least, you’ll notice the large album at the bottom of the photo. This album belonged to W. D. Bickham and contains cartes de visite he collected during the Civil War era, many depicting famous politicians and generals. For instance, the page currently open shows off a photo of none other than President Abraham Lincoln, plus Generals Winfield Scott, Philip Sheridan, and George Thomas (all 3 on the opposite page).

The Bickham cartes de visite album is from the Bickham Collection (MS-017), which I processed. This was my first experience with this type of archival item. Obviously, I had seen cartes de visite before. I recognized them as a small, mid-19th-century type of albumen photograph. But as yet, I had only worked with family photo collections wherein all the cartes de visite were from friends or relatives. But this had to be something different; the majority of the images in the album are of famous people like Lincoln, Sheridan, Bragg, John Clem (aka Johnny Shiloh), just to name a few. While Bickham did have many famous (or later-famous) contacts due to his profession as a journalist, I seriously doubted that he had been given all of these photos personally.

As it turns out, it was extremely common during that era for people to collect cartes de visite in a manner similar to how one might collect baseball cards. The National Museum of American History at the Smithsonian has an excellent blog post [“Civil War Portraits: Where Personal and Public Meet,” Oct. 3, 2011] discussing this practice. They also have a YouTube video [“Civil War Portraits: Personal and Public,” Sept. 25, 2011] to go along with it. This was a great help to me in understanding what I was actually looking at, in the case of the Bickham Album.

I hope you’ll come down and see us and check out our exhibit. Although the Bickham Album is currently on display in a locked case, you can browse its contents online anytime on our Flickr page. I scanned each individual photo and added them to the set Bickham Civil War Album. There are several unidentified individuals — probably famous politicians or generals that I just don’t happen to recognize (we can’t all know everything!) — so if you see any marked unidentified and know who it is, please leave a comment to help us out.

The collections discussed here are publicly available for research at the Dayton Metro Library, Main Library, Local History Room, 215 E. Third St., Dayton, OH 45402. For more information on the collection, contact the library, or feel free to leave a comment on this blog.

The Bickham Civil War Album is from the Bickham Collection (MS-017). The Howard Forrer photograph is from the Forrer-Peirce-Wood Collection (MS-018). Other items shown are from various parts of the Dayton Collection; contact librarian (i.e., me, or the library!) for info on specific items.

Oh! One more thing:  Just so you know, I did not create this Civil War exhibit, although I did suggest the inclusion of the Bickham scrapbook and the Howard Forrer photo and shoulder boards. The majority of the exhibit (like, 99%!) was done by our lovely and talented Local History Specialist, Nancy Horlacher. The other two cases, which I have not photographed, include materials pertaining to the Dayton Soldiers’ Home and the 131st O.V.I. (a regiment made up primarily of men from Dayton).

Advertisements

Recommended Reading: Web 2.0 Tools and Strategies for Archives and Local History Collections

Are you an archivist wondering how you could use blogs, Flickr, Twitter, podcasts, YouTube, Facebook, or another “Web 2.0” technology to promote your collections and reach out to your users (or potential users)? Then have I got the book for you.

I recently finished reading Web 2.0 Tools and Strategies for Archives and Local History Collections by Kate Theimer (New York : Neil-Schuman Publishers, 2010), and I must say, it is definitely recommended reading for anyone working with historical and cultural collections : archivists, local history librarians, and perhaps also museum folk (although the book is not specifically geared towards museums, per se). Even if your organization has not given much thought to Web 2.0 interaction before, you should give this book a once-over just to see some of “what’s out there” and what you could be doing.

Theimer admits that Web 2.0 may not be for every organization, but she suggests : “If you want to project an image of being forward thinking and people centered, then Web 2.0 tools may help to shape that image” (p. 208).

Well, of course, who doesn’t want that? But some might wonder : What the heck is “Web 2.0,” and how can I use it to promote historical collections? text Theimer starts at the beginning, explaining what “Web 2.0” means and exploring it in general terms, before getting down to business with individual chapters on various Web 2.0 technologies (like blogs, Flickr, Twitter, and Facebook) and how they can be utilized by cultural institutions. She explains the basics of each technology and gives examples, including case studies and interviews with representatives from real cultural institutions that are using it.

There is also a chapter on how to evaluate the success of your project : what are your goals, and is the project “working”? Another chapter on discusses management and other issues : legal issues, preservation, workloads, and getting institutional “buy-in”.

I was particularly interested in the chapters on Flickr and on blogs. We have a Dayton Metro Library Local History Flickr account. I have managed to do some cool things with it; I’m particularly proud of my 1913 Flood geo-tagged images/map mashup [see May 9, 2011].

As for blogs, of course I have this personal blog, but we do not have a blog specifically for local history at the library. This book definitely gave me some ideas about the variety of different “types” of local history/archives blogs that could be done, though. Some of those types included : general “institutional” blogs, which could contain just about anything relevant to your institution; “processing” blogs, where archivists write about things they find while processing a collection (the Dayton Daily News Archive blog from Wright State came to my mind as I was reading about that one); and “archival content” blogs, for posting actual primary source content, such as diary entries (she uses the Orwell diaries as an example) [you could also do this with Twitter if the entries are really short]. The diary-entries one really sparked my interest. We definitely have some unique and historically significant diaries in our collection. I expect you could probably do a content blog using a series of letters back and forth between two people, as well. Oh, the possibilities!

And just in case you’re like me and years of history coursework has trained you to flip to the back of the book for the “About the Author” section (translation: why should I trust you?), Kate Theimer has credentials out the wazoo to show that she is “qualified” to advise you on this stuff. She has a Master of Information Science degree with an archives concentration, experience working at the National Archives and the Smithsonian, and she is the author of a popular archives blog called ArchivesNext (http://www.archivesnext.com/). [That’s actually where I heard about her book in the first place: see May 12, 2011.]

In short, I think every archivist should check out this book. It has tons of neat ideas. Web 2.0 might not be for every institution. And certainly, some Web 2.0 technologies will be better suited to your collections and your mission than others. But read this book; see what’s out there.

Find this book at a library near you, through WorldCat. (I can tell you that the Dayton Metro Library has a circulating copy; I’ll be returning it soon!) Or, buy a copy from the SAA Bookstore or Amazon.

FYI: I did not receive any compensation for writing this review. Nobody asked me to do it. I just found an awesome book and thought I’d share…

Geo-tagged Images of the 1913 Flood

I recently wrapped up a project at work that I’ve been working on for a few weeks now: geo-tagging images of the 1913 Flood in Dayton, Ohio, using images on the Dayton Metro Library’s Flickr and a web site called GeoSlideShow, which creates the maps from geo-tagged images on Flickr.

There are two maps:

  • 1913 Flood “During” – This map shows images when the city was actually flooded.
  • 1913 Flood “After” – Images on this map show the aftermath and clean-up in the city, including debris, mud, dead horses, crumbled buildings, and ruins from fires that broke out.

I am very excited about having completed this project, because I think it is a great visual aid to understanding the flood and its history. It’s one thing to look at several (or in this case, hundreds) of photos of the flood and think, “Oh, how awful.” I think it’s more helpful to be able to contextualize those images in geographic space. Marking the photo’s location on a current map can help people understand, because they may be able to picture what’s there now or perhaps realize that maybe they drive by that spot every day and that in 1913 it was under water!

Please note: The Dayton Metro Library has over 400 photos and postcards of the 1913 flood. I was not able to geo-tag all of them, so not every image is shown on these maps. If I could not pinpoint the exact location of an image (or approximate within about 1 city block), I did not geo-tag it, so it will not appear on these maps. (And let me tell you, it was a fun challenge trying to figure out the location of the image, based on descriptions and businesses shown in the picture!)

All of the Dayton Metro Library’s 1913 flood pictures can be seen on Flickr, as well as in the library’s digital collections.

Preserving Our Cultural Heritage Conference at Indiana University, presentations, part 2

More from the Preserving Our Cultural Heritage conference at IU:

*****

Danielle Emerling (IU-Bloomington) gave a presentation, “Motion Picture Film Preservation at the Chautauqua Institution Archives.” This presentation described a project in which Ms. Emerling participated last year to preserve and make accessible 2 or 3 silent film reels from 1923 (35mm film). With the help of Eastman House and Kodak in Rochester, NY, the film was evaluated (not nitrate – woohoo!), preserved, and ultimately digitized for access purposes. We were even able to watch clips from the films during the presentation – cool stuff!

It was kind of amazing to watch these videos from 1923, being played on a computer, no less. This gives me hope for getting some of my grandpa’s old home movie films (16mm and 8mm from the 1950s and 1960s) preserved and digitized someday. (I am afraid to know how much the whole process cost, though.)

The subject matter was interesting as well. One film showed activities at Chautauqua. The other seemed to be a sort of patriot film, which depicted a group of “immigrants” being schooled on American history (the 30 second version!). (That was one of the more anti-immigrant time periods in American history – if you don’t believe me, check out the details of the Immigration Act of 1924.)

*****

Brenna Henry (IU-Bloomington) presented “Non-textual Objects in Library and Archival Collections.” In this presentation, Ms. Henry shared the results of some survey research she conducted regarding the non-textual objects (often called “realia”) in libraries and archives, including how and why the objects got into the collection and how the institutions deal with them.

I can only imagine some of the things that might be floating around in an archives that, er, don’t really belong there. Sometimes you get and keep these things because they go with a larger manuscript collection that you really did want. Sometimes you have these things because someone at your institution in the past didn’t really understand the archives and museums are actually different. Or, sometimes, they just sneak in on you – like those 19th century notebooks with locks of hair in them. (Yep, we’ve got some of those…)

I asked Ms. Henry whether any of the institutions mentioned directing patrons to another repository that deals with 3-D objects, and she said yes, some of them do. That’s what we usually do at the library, if someone has historic artifacts that they want to donate: we recommend a museum instead. But we’re happy to take manuscripts that fit our collecting policy.

*****

Day 1 presentations that I did not attend (sessions were concurrent):

Kristopher Stenson (IU-Bloomington), “The Grigg Report and its Effect on Appraisal in the United Kingdom.”

Camille Torres (Simmons College), “Rethinking Appraisal Theory for Government Documents.”

Ed Hill (IU-Bloomington), “Heavy Metal as Folklore and the Case for Preservation.”

Richard Fischer (City University of New York-Queens), “‘The Mystery Song’: Histories of the Contingent in Documentary Jazz Recordings.”

*****

Day 2 presentations:

*****

Kristen Schuster (Simmons College) read her paper “Photography, Identity and Descriptive Processes.” Here is a description of the presentation from the paper abstract: “The relationship between the creation of records and the impulse to archive represents the interdependence between memory and identity. How we articulate our past experiences reflects our ability to understand the meaning [of] memory, as well as the subjects we include in them.”

Ms. Schuster’s presentation was intriguing, but it was so very meta that I think the best I can do to comment on it is to copy here some of the extermely interesting sound-bites I jotted down in my notes:

  • What we choose to save is a reflection of our perception of value.
  • “The camera is an archiving machine.”
  • Visual literacy can transform a photo from “art” to “document”.
  • Archival description does not preserve memory but the notion of memory.
  • Cataloging represents an object through controlled terms, thus limiting search ability and stripping details and memory from the photo. [This is one of my favorite snippets! Then again, subject headings and I have a bit of a rocky relationship anyway…]
  • Words and images communicate in different ways.
  • Folksonomy tags democratize subjects.
  • User supplied terms can broaden ideas of a photo’s subject matter or how it is considered; a single indexer cannot provide all possible relevant terms. [Yes!]

Just to be clear: Most of the above bulleted items are probably direct quotes or very nearly so – in any event, all Ms. Schuster’s ideas. Only the parts in brackets come from me. But I was scribbling so fast during the presentation, trying to listen and write at the same time, that I didn’t get everything word for word or sometimes forgot the actual quotation marks. (Ah, it takes me back to my undergraduate history lecture courses…)

*****

Micah Erwin (University of Texas-Austin) gave a presentation, “An Underappreciated Resource: Medieval Manuscript Leaf Collections.” The presentation discussed Mr. Erwin’s experiences with digitizing and describing medieval manuscript leaf collections. (Just so we’re clear: leaf = manuscript page, not like like a leaf from a tree!)

Apparently, in the past it has been fashionable to collect manuscript leaves, which has caused the individual leaves from manuscripts to become scattered among various collectors. Mr. Erwin mentioned some of the ways that digization (even Flickr!) is aiding in identifying leaves from different collections that originally belonged together, as well as how digitization might be used to create a virtual exhibit bringing leaves from different collections back together again. He also emphasized that although these individual leaves are often viewed as mere curiosities and are consequently not always cataloged adequately, the leaves can be valuable teaching aids – so cataloging should be done! [I couldn’t agree more! I think everything should be cataloged! Why have something if nobody knows it’s there?]

This was yet another interesting presentation on a topic I did not know much about, save what I learned in my History of Books class a year or so ago. Incidentally, Mr. Erwin mentioned that renowned medieval manuscripts expert Christopher de Hamel was at the IU Lilly Library recently. Mr. de Hamel wrote A History of Illuminated Manuscripts, which we used in the History of Books class (one of my favorites in my whole MLIS program).

*****

Rachel Woodbrook and Althea Lazzaro (University of Washington) gave their presentation “‘How are [we] to bring such wayward creatures into the bonds of organizations?’ Zine Archives and the Archival Tradition,” and led a discussion afterwards.

I admit I did not even know what a “zine” was prior to this presentation, let alone what sorts of unique archival challenges they might present. The presenters gave a very broad definition of “zine” as: “any self-published creative endeavor done out of passion.” Apparently, this format has been popular in a lot of counter-culture movements (my word, not theirs), such as punk, new feminism, and gay pride, among others.

As a result of the zines’ origins, this affets how they are being collected, preserved, and made accessible. That is, many zine archives (such as the Zine Archive and Publishing Project in Seattle) tend to be low-key and low-restriction, even circulating copies; to lock them away for their own protection would completely cramp the style of the format and step on the intent and the material itself. After all, many of these were written for the express purpose of defying control and oppression! It was a very interesting dynamic.

Issues regarding possible digization for access (so more people could view) and preservation (less handling of the originals) were discussed also. Copyrights and privacy issues were the two biggies. Intellectual property is protected by copyright upon its creation, but you can of course ask permission for certain uses. But what do you do if the item in question has a pseudonymed author that you can’t even find? As for privacy, there is some very personal stuff in some of these zines: it’s a little dicey whether the author would even like it being in an archives (but again – you can’t always find them to ask!), let alone know that something they might have created to circulate among a handful of friends has found its way not only into an archive but was digitized and made available to the world.

Yes, this presentation turned out to be an interesting an informative one indeed. Not only did I learn what the heck a zine even is, I learned about some of the very unique archival challenges they can present.

(As an aside, I overheard someone else talking about zines in a completely unrelated context later on that same day. Weird how one day I didn’t even know what they were, and the next day, I hear about them from two different sources!)

*****

Day 2 presentations that I did not attend (sessions were concurrent):

Sarah Keil (IU-Bloomington): “An Analysis of African Archives: Challenges for the Present and Solutions for Change.”

Alison Clemens (University of Texas-Austin): “The Woman Behind the Curtain: Winnie Allen as Archivist.”

*****

And with that, I’ve finished up the paper/presentation sessions. In Part 3, I’ll share some notes on the behind-the-scenes tour at Lilly Library, as well as the Conservation Workshop (which was my primary reason for attending this conference).

Historic photos on Flickr

This morning, I read this post from The Atlantic about a collection of Civil War photos added to Flickr by the Library of Congress. The photos look like they are all cased tintypes, many of them hand-colored…so very interesting.

I love projects like this: using Web 2.0 and new media tools to share history with the world. Many places are using Flickr for this type of project. We recently got a Flickr account for the Dayton library, in fact. It’s one more way to get your “stuff” to everyone “out there.” Plus, there’s always the hope that people will engage your content, maybe even identify a person or a place that has been up to this point “unidentified.”

Flickr has a lof of neat ways to interact with content: comments, tags, mapping, and even groups. I was interested in a place where people from the Dayton area could share their local history photos and see others’ photos…and not finding one, I created one: History in the Miami Valley (Ohio). So far it has 19 members, and I only just created it last week.

I am amazed at some of the photos people are sharing on Flickr — the way we are documenting the present, which years from now will amount to having documented the past. We have a wonderful collection like this at the library—the Lutzenberger photograph collection—full of pictures from the 1880s to 1930s. I always marvel at the way things used to look — especially the things that aren’t there anymore (and there are a lot of those!). It might seem silly to go out and take pictures of ordinary places and things, now, but in 100 years, people will look at those pictures the same way we look at pictures from 1900 today. I hope not only that these photos survive that long — oh the digital age! (but that’s for another entry) — but that some of them make it into a library or archives to be shared and studied by all.