Honoring First Lady Laura Bush

Last night the National Archives Foundation presented our Records of Achievement Award to former First Lady Laura Bush.  The award is an annual tribute recognizing individuals who have made a significant impact upon the public’s understanding of the United States and its history.  The accomplishments of the awardees reflects the Foundation’s mission by highlighting stories found in the billions of documents, photographs, maps, films, and recordings in the National Archives to bring a fuller understanding of our national experience.

Photograph of Laura Bush receiving Records of Achievement Award
Laura Bush receives National Archives Foundation 2018 Records of Achievement Award
L to R: National Archives Executive Director Patrick Madden, Archivist of the United States David Ferriero, former First Lady Laura Bush, Journalist and author Cokie Roberts, National Archives Foundation Chairman Jim Blanchard. Photo courtesy of the National Archives Foundation.

My remarks from last night’s ceremony:

I’m delighted to recognize a fellow librarian! And you may be surprised to learn how much we have in common: we studied for our Masters in Library Science at the same time, relocated to Washington for Executive branch positions on Pennsylvania Avenue, and both proudly champion our nation’s history.

But in all seriousness, First Lady Laura Bush’s unwavering support of civic literacy, her passion for education, and her unyielding commitment to the empowerment of women make her both an obvious choice for this award, and for the launch of our women’s vote centennial celebration.

Laura Bush has been an educator, a librarian, the First Lady of Texas, the First Lady of the United States, and a global advocate through the George W. Bush Presidential Center. The common thread linking her life’s work together is this intrinsic love of learning that she continues to share with the world.

Laura Bush’s educational work through the Bush Center in programs such as Middle School Matters, the School Leadership Initiative, Advancing Accountability in Education, and of course, my favorite––your Foundation for America’s Libraries––all demonstrate a commitment and passion for ensuring a literate society. This mission was what President Franklin D. Roosevelt had in mind when he created the National Archives, a mission which continues to be vital to our democracy.

Laura Bush said “We must prepare our children and grandchildren with the tools they need to be informed, engaged citizens who care about individual liberty and democracy. We must teach them history. We must insist they understand the government they are blessed to live under. We must teach our children to listen, to show empathy, to show civility in the face of disagreement, and to overcome malice and hate. And we must model the behavior ourselves.”

At the National Archives, we work to provide students of all ages with the tools they need to understand history and become active participants in our government. We recently launched a civic education webpage to make our education initiatives accessible to parents, teachers, and students. DocsTeach, our online tool for teaching with documents, features more than 10,500 primary source documents and interactive activities for teachers and students. We make history fun with sleepovers in the Rotunda upstairs with themes such as space exploration and Native Americans. And we host a wide variety of educational programs across the country throughout the year.

We would not be here tonight if it wasn’t for our partner, the National Archives Foundation, helping the National Archives reach an ever-larger and more diverse audience. Together, we make civic literacy a reality. With the support of the Foundation and generous benefactors like you, we celebrated our annual 4th of July Reading of the Declaration on the steps of this building. We hosted two widely popular National Archives sleepovers. And we will launch our next exhibit “Rightfully Hers” this March on the 19th Amendment and women’s right to vote in the Lawrence F. O’Brien Gallery.

Tonight, we celebrate this shared vision between Laura Bush and the National Archives family. Through the work of the former First Lady, the National Archives, and the National Archives Foundation, we’re striving for a nation in which all children have the same love of learning that drove Laura Bush to pursue her dreams and make the world a better place.

Thank you for joining us this evening as we celebrate our public-private partnership with the Foundation and pay tribute to Laura Bush.

2010 Olympic Torch Relay Photographs Now Available

The Archives is pleased to announce that over twelve thousand photographs from the 2010 Olympic Torch Relay (OTR) – showing virtually every torchbearer that participated in the relay – have been processed and are now accessible through our online database. These photographs are part of the Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games (VANOC) fonds, donated in 2010, and may be used for any fair dealing purpose.

The Olympic Torch Relay Route

The OTR took place from October 30, 2009 to February 12, 2010. Beginning in Victoria BC, it covered more than 45,000 km across all thirteen provinces and territories before returning to Vancouver 106 days later. Over 12,000 people carried the torch across Canada.

The relay was extensively documented in photographs and video from multiple cameras. As part of their donation, VANOC transferred over 316,000 OTR digital photographs (totaling 1.9 terabytes). These were grouped by relay day, and each day was further broken down into subdirectories that collected highlights of the day to be sent to the OTR’s corporate sponsors, and selections to be used by VANOC for promoting the relay and the games.

Day 006, torchbearer no. 038, Abel T, November 4, 2009. Reference Code (file): AM1550-S07-F006-:

The photographs in this series come from each day’s “TB” (torchbearer) folder. VANOC copied a photo of each torchbearer that participated in that day’s relay into the day’s TB folder. Almost every torchbearer is represented in this series (although there are some torchbearers – including the first torchbearer on day 1 – for which no photos were available).  There are 12,470 images in this series, but these represent only a small percentage of the OTR photos.

Day 050, torchbearer no. 053, Paul C – Toronto, Dec 18, 2009. Reference Code (file): AM1550-S07-F050-:

The Olympic Bid Corporation records and VANOC’s analogue records were processed and made available a few years ago, but the torchbearer photographs are the first born-digital records series processed from the VANOC records. Although this series is over 33GB, it represents only a small fraction of the approximately 25TB of born digital records received from VANOC since the conclusion of the Games.

Day 076, torchbearer no. 042, Karina M – Vegreville, January 13, 2010. Reference Code (file): AM1550-S07-F050-:

There were a number of reasons that this particular series was chosen as the first series of born-digital records to be processed from the VANOC donation. This project was intended to test our digital preservation capacity – specifically, the ability to ingest large numbers of files and automatically upload access copies and descriptive metadata to our online database (powered by software called Access to Memory, or AtoM for short). The torchbearer photos fulfilled a number of criteria that we were looking for in a test case. The overall arrangement structure was simple, making it easy to structure what are called Submission Information Packages (SIPs) so that they corresponded to logical descriptive units. The content type was uniform, reducing the number of variables that would need to be considered when deciding on a processing configuration, and the number of variables that would need to be considered when troubleshooting inevitable problems. The total size was  large enough that it would test the scalability of our digital preservation system, but small enough that it could be completed in a reasonable amount of time, and wouldn’t be overly problematic to troubleshoot when things went wrong. Finally, the content had a strong connection with the Canadian public. There are thousands of photos of Canadians participating in the OTR, and literally millions of people will have a connection to at least one person appearing in the photos.

Day 104, torchbearer no. 174, Stephanie S – North Vancouver, February 10, 2010. Reference Code (file): AM1550-S07-F104-:

The original drives received from VANOC were backed up as soon as we received them in 2010. These were later transferred to the Archives’ network storage. This was not straightforward. The original images were created in a Mac environment. The Archives digital preservation system, Archivematica, is primarily Linux-based, and the City network where the storage is mounted is Windows-based. The main difficulty encountered was namespace conflicts among the different operating system environments. This necessitated writing some scripts to resolve the conflicts, and to track and log changes made to the file and directory names.


Day 106, torchbearer no. 018, Arnold S – Vancouver, February 12, 2010. Reference Code (file): AM1550-S07-F106-:

We discovered that VANOC had helpfully embedded some descriptive metadata in most of the photos about the name of the torchbearer and the segment of the relay. Usually just the torchbearer’s first name and last initial were present; though some had the full name (and others had no name, only the torchbearer number). Frustratingly, there were inconsistencies in fields used to store this metadata, making it impossible to automate the extraction of the metadata to use in the archival descriptions.  We extracted the metadata from the images using exiftool, and exported it to a csv file. The descriptive metadata was collected from the various fields that it appeared in and used to create descriptive titles for the images; this was packaged with the SIPs as a csv file that Archivematica could send to AtoM, so that AtoM could create archival descriptions when  the  access copies were uploaded.

There were 102 SIPs, each corresponding to a single day of the torch relay (although OTR spanned 106 days, four of those were rest days). Each SIP contained a file about the provenance of the SIP’s contents, a file documenting the original directory structure that the SIP contents were copied from, a descriptive metadata file used to populate the AtoM descriptions, and the photos themselves – as few as 8 (day 21), and as many as 270 (day 49).

Directory structure of SIPs, ready for processing through Archivematica

It took approximately 60 hours, spaced across two weeks, to run all 102 SIPs through Archivematica and upload the images and descriptions into AtoM. Here’s an example of the Archivematica dashboard that shows the various microservices that run on each SIP. These microservices carry out such actions as creating integrity checksums, file format identification and validation, metadata extraction and format migration and normalization. Collectively, these actions help ensure that the source images remain authentic and accessible over time.

Archivematica dashboard showing various microservices running

If you are interested in learning more about the nuts and bolts of how Archivematica works, we wrote about it back in 2012.

Here is a sample item-level description in AtoM with the access copy attached. The data in the physical description field tells you that the original record is the product of digital photography, that it was born digital. If the description field said something like “1 photograph : b&w acetate negative,” you would know that the digital image was the product of the Archives’ digitization program – a scan of an analogue record. Note also, that the original source image is a jpg file. That is the file format of the digital image received from VANOC, and there is no other version (such as a .tif or raw camera file) available. If you click on the image and agree to fair dealing use, you will be presented with a larger jpg, an exact copy of the original source image.

Item level description in AtoM showing physical description of original digital file and rights information

This was a successful project that validated our procedures and workflow. We are looking forward to building upon this success. There are still more files from the OTR that need to be preserved and made accessible. These include the torchbearer photos from the Paralympic Torch Relay which took place from March 4-12, 2010, VANOC and sponsor selected photos from the OTR, and the OTR video footage. Each of these record series shares some similarities with the torchbearer photos, but will have its own unique challenges. We anticipate making many more VANOC records available in the coming months.

Poetry in Protest, a new Exhibit in Strozier Library

Poetry in Protest

Poetry can be a powerful tool for eliciting emotion and is frequently used to express dissent or advocate for change. FSU Special Collections & Archives’ latest exhibition, “Poetry in Protest,” explores the genres, tactics, and voices of poets that write against the existing world and imagine societal revolution.

As a means of delving into the subject, the exhibition begins with poet Michael Rothenberg’s work in developing the global event 100 Thousand Poets for Change, where poets around the world read in support of “Peace, Justice, and Sustainability.” While some of the materials on display are explicitly poetry responding to some aspect of the status quo, others are less direct in their means of protest. Poetry containing eroticism that is transgressive push back against societal norms of sex and love; works written in dialects or languages of the oppressed insist upon the existence of those voices in the world.

The selections from FSU Libraries’ Special Collections encompass nearly 2,500 years of poetical dissent, including Sappho, William Wordsworth, Gwendolyn Brooks, Allen Ginsberg, Amiri Baraka, Tupac Shakur, and many more. Materials from the Michael Rothenberg Collection are on display for the first time since their recent acquisition as well.

Stop by this Fall and take a tour of some of the greatest voices of protest poetry in history through this exhibition of items from FSU’s Special Collections & Archives. This exhibit is located in the Exhibit Room on the first floor of Strozier Library. It is open Monday to Thursday, 10am to 6pm and on Fridays from 10am to 5:30pm.

Girl’s Own Paper

This post is part of our series celebrating American Archives Month. Last week, Special Collections & Archives did a Twitter Takeover of the @fsulibraries feed for #AskAnArchivist day so be sure to check out those conversations. 

The Digital Library Center has been busy loading material into DigiNole, and one of the most recent additions is the Girl’s Own Paper. Written for young girls and women and published in the United Kingdom from 1880 to the 1950s, the primary content of these papers consist of educational articles, fashion advice editorials, poetry, and fictional stories. 

Though hundreds of years old, much of the content found in this collection is still relevant today. The theory and instructional methods for learning guitar, for example, haven’t changed much after all these years. Each issue also includes beautiful illustrations to accompany the textual content as seen in the lesson below.

Page from The Girl's Own Paper Volume 2, Issue 61. February 26, 1881 [See original object]
Page from The Girl’s Own Paper Volume 2, Issue 61. February 26, 1881 [See original object]

Several volumes have already been added to DigiNole and more will be uploaded until the collection is complete. The existing issues of Girl’s Own Annual and Girl’s Own Paper can be found here.

We are working hard to get the entire collection uploaded for users to access and are still early in the process of digitizing this set of material. To reduce the strain on our internal storage servers, this collection is being digitized at about 4 volumes per batch. Once a batch is successfully uploaded, we purge those images from our servers to make room for new images and we then start working on the next set of volumes.

We’ve got a long way to go, so check back often to see what new material we’re adding to this charming collection!

Merging Time: Past & Present Combined

Merging Time, an exhibit created by the students of Langara College’s Professional Photography program, has returned to the Archives gallery space. It is an exhibit that merges a photograph from the Archives holdings with a newly-shot image of the same scene. This year, there are nineteen of these past-and-present combined images adorning the gallery walls.

Archives photograph selected by Luc Frost for the Merging Time exhibit. Hastings Street looking towards Cambie Street intersection, ca. 1913. Reference code: AM1376-: CVA 220-10

Digital composite by Luc Frost incorporating Archives image AM1376-: CVA 220-10

The creation of the merged images may look effortless and seamless, but don’t be fooled. The first challenge for these students is finding the locations from which the original photographs were shot. Getting a new shot with their dSLR cameras from the same perspective can be tricky, as buildings, construction, or other barriers that didn’t exist in the past may block or obscure today’s views of the original scenes. Even the height of the original photographer can make getting a similar shot a challenge.

Archives photograph selected by Kessa McGowan for Merging Time exhibit. Interior of St.Paul’s Church on Jervis Street, 1910. Reference code: AM54-S4-: Ch P47.2

Once suitable present-day shots have been taken, they are manipulated to match the focal length and angle of the original photographs. Through this editing process, the students choose what parts of the two images to blend and merge. The results are an insightful and fascinating look into how Vancouver’s landscape has shifted, or stayed the same over time.

Digital composite by Kessa McGowan incorporating Archives image AM54-S4-: Ch P47.2

This year’s selection of original photographs date from 1900 to 1948, and include downtown buildings and streets, churches, English Bay, and the Lions Gate Bridge.

The Archives Gallery is open to the public 9 am to 5 pm, Monday through Friday. Merging Time will be showcased until the end of February. The images are also available on Flickr.

Celebrating American Archives Month

Standing midway between the White House and the U.S. Capitol, the National Archives building at 700 Pennsylvania Avenue is as impressive today as when it opened in 1935. Surrounded by seventy-two Corinthian columns, each over 50 feet high, it is among the most popular photo backdrops for tourists.

National Archives Building
Photograph of the southeast corner of the National Archives Building in Washington, DC. Photo by Jeff Reed

As we celebrate Archives month, however, I thought it appropriate to draw some attention to the words inscribed in large letters on the east side of the building:


It is important that we never lose sight of the trusted role that nonpartisan government archivists – at the federal, state and local level – play in ensuring the permanence of our democratic institutions.

Since 2006, the American archival community, including the Society of American Archivists (SAA), the Council of State Archivists (COSA), and hundreds of individual repositories, has celebrated American Archives Month every October.

At NARA, we use this month to publicize our agency mission and priceless records and to raise awareness of the value of archives and archivists. We take this opportunity to celebrate the breadth of our holdings and locations and to connect American citizens with the records that document our democracy in action. Today the National Archives cares for 15 billion sheets of paper, 43 million photographs, miles and miles of video and film, and billions of electronic records. Like many of our archival colleagues at state and local levels, we face similar challenges of increasing volumes of electronic records—the fastest growing record form, while also undergoing budget and staffing constraints. We each have an indispensable role as the caretakers of the past and preservers of the future.

American Archives Month is a collaborative effort by archives at all levels to highlight the importance of historical materials of enduring value, and efforts to preserve and provide public access to them. To that end, I am proud of the leadership of our National Historical Publications and Records Commission who continue to support innovative research and discovery through our grants program. This program enables enhanced access to research content around the nation, funding projects and supporting initiatives to preserve and make archival collections more accessible to the public, support research and development, and improve access to state and local records.

Records temporarily stored in National Archives Building, 1937
Photograph of Food Administration Records Temporarily Being Stored in Tiers 16-18 in the National Archives Building, 8/17/1937. National Archives Identifier 12168492

The National Archives strives to be a trusted independent agency, providing access to the archival record of the United States on an equal basis to everyone according to the rules laid out primarily in the Presidential Records Act, the Federal Records Act, and the Freedom of Information Act. In fact, the law that established NARA as an independent agency in 1985 states that “The Archivist shall be appointed without regard to political affiliations and solely on the basis of professional qualifications required to perform the duties and responsibilities of the office of Archivist.”

NARA’s position is not unique. Every state has a State Archivist, and many towns and cities have municipal archivists. The importance of independent archives at all levels of government is critical to the trust of the country in its history, and the ability of the archives to provide reliable trustworthy evidence of the actions of the past. Every government archivist must be allowed to do his or her job free of political pressure so that the archival record can speak freely, and so the archives can continue to function as the trusted repository of the actions of government.

As we celebrate and recognize the important role of all levels of archives in our democracy, I invite you to participate in our American Archives Month celebration. See our Twitter #AskAnArchivist chats, read our blog posts, and celebrate our agency’s invaluable holdings and the innumerable ways we connect the American public with their stories.

I am very proud of the work of our staff at the National Archives every day. I will continue to defend the principle of nonpartisan government archives, independent and therefore trusted, so that archives can continue to be the trusted brokers of history as they are today. I wish you a fulfilling, uplifting, educational, and productive American Archives Month.

Former PIDB Member Steven Garfinkel passes

Former PIDB member and ISOO Director Steven Garfinkel (1945-2018), died on September 24, 2018, aged 73.

Garfinkel entered government service with a distinguished academic record, after attending both George Washington University and its Law School as a Trustee Scholar. In 1970, he received his J.D. (with honors, Law Review), three years after receiving his B.A. (with distinction, PBK).

Following law school, Garfinkel served for almost 10 years in the Office of General Counsel of the General Services Administration (GSA), which in the 1970s still managed the National Archives as the National Archives and Records Service (NARS). His positions in that office included chief counsel for NARS, chief counsel for information and privacy, and chief counsel for civil rights.

In 1974, while serving in GSA’s Office of General Counsel, and in the wake of President Richard M. Nixon’s resignation, Garfinkel participated in drafting the Presidential Recordings and Materials Preservation Act (PRMPA), which placed records relating to the abuse of governmental power by President Nixon and White House staff under custody of the National Archives to process for public access.

In May 1980, President Jimmy Carter appointed Garfinkel to serve as ISOO’s second director, succeeding Michael Blouin, who in 1978 served in the founding of ISOO.  In 1984, after Congress established the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) as an independent agency, Garfinkel continued as ISOO Director until he stepped down in December 2001.

As Director of ISOO, Garfinkel played a critical role in drafting Executive Order 12958, which established the first requirements for the automatic declassification of national security information, issued by President Bill Clinton, on April 17, 1995.  At that time, Garfinkel said, “The big thing about the new executive order is that the burden has shifted 180° in terms of maintaining the classified status of information.” In the past, in order to declassify information, an agency had to commit resources to the process of document review. “Now,” he stressed, “if an agency does nothing, information will be declassified.”

Garfinkel continued in public service even as he departed ISOO.  From 2000 to 2006, he chaired the Nazi War Crimes and Japanese Imperial Government Records Interagency Working Group (IWG), the vast declassification initiative to implement the Nazi War Crimes Disclosure Act of 1998.  Under Garfinkel’s agile stewardship, this landmark effort became the largest congressionally-mandated, single-subject declassification effort in history.

The records publicly released shed important historical light on the Holocaust and other war crimes – as well as the U.S. Government’s involvement with war criminals during the Cold War – while furthering Garfinkel’s lifelong goal of greater government transparency.  “Historians, political scientists, journalists, novelist, students, and other researchers will use the records the IWG has brought to light for many decades to come,” wrote Garfinkel in the IWG final report, which demonstrated “that disaster does not befall America when intelligence agencies declassify old intelligence operations records.”

From 2004 to 2008, appointed by President George W. Bush, he served a four-year term as a PIDB Member, contributing to the PIDB Report to the President on Improving Declassification (2007).

In 2004, Garfinkel received a master’s degree in teaching from Towson University.  After retiring from government, he followed his passion to teach history and government to high school students in Montgomery County, Maryland.

In the scope of his activities, and the focus of his commitment to public service, Garfinkel remains an inspiration to the PIDB staff.  Even as we lament his passing, we celebrate his legacy in supporting PIDB’s mandate and in advancing the work of ISOO.


Artist Books Collection Continues to Grow

This post kicks off a month of posts celebrating American Archives Month. Yesterday, Special Collections & Archives did a Twitter Takeover of the @fsulibraries feed for #AskAnArchivist day so be sure to check out those conversations. 

This post is written by Melissa Quarles, Special Collections & Archives’ new graduate assistant. You’ll be hearing more from her over the next year but today she highlights our artists’ books.

For the past two years, Florida State University (FSU) has been steadily growing its collection of artists’ books, which are currently housed in Special Collections & Archives. These unique works blur the boundaries between art and literature, encouraging readers to question How Books Work and what they mean to each of us. Anne Evenhaugen, the head librarian at the Smithsonian’s American Art and Portrait Gallery Library, describes artists’ books as “a medium of artistic expression that uses the form or function of ‘book’ as inspiration. It is the artistic initiative seen in the illustration, choice of materials, creation process, layout and design that makes it an art object.” The difference between a regular book and an artist’s book is determined primarily by the creator’s intentional treatment and presentation of the materials.

A few earlier posts highlighted new and interesting artists’ books in our collection. The books we house encompass a wide range of genres, forms, and topics. We have several books that feature poetry, such as Indra’s Net by Bea Nettles. This beautifully marbled paper scroll features a poem by Grace Nettles (the artist’s mother) printed over a spider web design. Attached to the inside of the lid, a small silver bell rings to evoke the memories described in the text. The original poem, from a book called Corners, can be found in our collection as well.

Artists’ books are often multi-sensory experiences. Music for Teacups, a joint venture by Melissa Haviland and David Colagiovanni, is part of a larger project “investigating the destructive moment of a breaking piece of family tableware to highlight family dynamics, upbringing, inheritance, etiquette, and issues of class. ‘Music for Teacups’… rhythmically dissects the poetic moment of a falling and breaking teacup as it sounds during its last second as a complete object.” (description from Haviland’s website). The work consists of an accordion fold booklet of cut-outs shaped like teacups, as well as a 45rpm record of the accompanying music. However, since we have no playback equipment, patrons who wish to listen to the piece are directed to this sample video (from Colagiovanni’s website).

Many of our artists’ books offer political and social commentary or center on issues such as human rights. One such work is Bitter Chocolate by Julie Chen. The book itself is shaped like a large bar of chocolate, which unfolds like a Jacob’s ladder. Each panel is connected by magnets, so that they can be unfolded to reveal four different sides. The unique tactile and structural aspects of the piece are a staple feature of Chen’s work, but the content is equally compelling. Two of the sides narrate a story about the mythical Mayan chocolate goddess, “Cacao Woman.” The goddess rejoices in the widespread love of chocolate among humans, but also laments the chocolate industry’s reliance on forced child labor, abuse, and trafficking. The other two sides feature the author’s personal memories and experiences with chocolate, as well as facts about its production worldwide.

FSU students, alumni, visitors, and the general public are invited to visit Special Collections & Archives and check out our rich collection of artist books. Patrons may also wish to explore how to make their own art books. Many of our works include explanations of the printing and construction processes, and we even have books designed to elicit inspiration for budding artists. FSU also has its own publisher, the Small Craft Advisory Press. Other resources, articles, books, and artist websites are listed below.





Bad Children of History #36: Curtains Are Not For Wiping

Oh how we’ve missed the Bad Children of History! We recently cataloged a book that’s part of our Wetmore Collection, and contains dozens of delinquents and ill-mannered imps: La Civilité Puérile et Honnête, an etiquette book for children with illustrations by Louis-Maurice Boutet de Monvel.

Boutet de Monvel’s illustrations aptly capture the sneakiness and hilarity of childhood, as well as the joy of hanging out at the seaside with miniature pizza peels.


(Etiquette hot tip: don’t bury your friends’ heads in the sand.)

The “what not to do” images are priceless.


“It wasn’t me.”


“Agh, I dropped my Twinkies!”

This book’s children are naughty, and snotty.

They’re wiggly and squiggly.


They’re rude and crude.

We love the action shots.


We also love the recommendation about bread-licking in the “table manners” section.


Periodicals from the BC Gay and Lesbian Archives collection now available!

Back in May we announced that longtime LGBTQ2+ community archivist and activist Ron Dutton had donated his entire collection, known as the BC Gay and Lesbian Archives, to the City of Vancouver Archives.

Since then, we’ve been hard at work getting the collection processed and available to researchers. Subject files have been available since the summer, and we’re delighted to announce that the Periodicals series is now fully processed and available in the Reading Room. The series contains a broad range of titles ranging from community magazines and newspapers to newsletters, activity and event guides, comics and zines, representing a diverse spectrum of LGBTQ2+ experiences.

Detail from back cover of an issue of Faggo Punk & Queer Zine, 2000. Reference code: AM1675-S2-F536

The earliest publications in the Periodicals series date from the 1950s and were all published in the United States by early LGBTQ2+ rights organizations. Titles include The Mattachine Review (published by the Mattachine Society), One (published by ONE, Inc.), and The Ladder (published by the Daughters of Bilitis).

Issues of the Mattachine Review (AM1675-S2-F369), One (AM1675-S2-F104), and The Ladder (AM1675-S2-F185)

Publications pertaining to LGBTQ2+ life in Vancouver begin with ASK newsletter, published in Vancouver by the Association for Social Knowledge (ASK). Formed in 1964, ASK was one of the earliest LGBTQ2+ organizations in Canada.

September 1964 issue of ASK newsletter, published in Vancouver. Reference code: AM1675-S2-F209

Many more Vancouver publications emerge in the 1970s, including Gay Tide, published by the Gay Alliance Toward Equality (GATE), as well as newsletters from the Society for Political Action for Gay People (SPAG) and the Metropolitan Community Church of Vancouver.

A highlight of the series is a near-full run of Angles, a community newspaper focusing on Vancouver LGBTQ2+ life launched in 1983. Angles was published by the Vancouver Gay Community Centre Society, now Qmunity.

1985 issues of Angles. Reference code: AM1675-S2-F002

The series also includes a number of zines and comics published independently in Vancouver and beyond.

Daisy Gets Erotik zine, 1996-2002. Reference code: AM1675-S2-F550

Ink Me : A Zine By and For Queer Asian Women. Reference code: AM1675-S2-F579

Oh… : a comic quarterly for her, because it’s time, 1992. Oh… was published in Victoria, BC. Reference code: AM1675-S2-F537

We are thrilled to have all 8.4 metres of periodicals described and available to view in the Reading Room. As always, Reading Room staff are happy to help you narrow down your search. Please pay us a visit and dive in!

Tet Offensive Declassification Project Aligns with PIDB Recommendations

Earlier this summer, the Intelligence Community (IC) published newly declassified records about the 1968 Tet offensive on www.intelligence.gov.   Commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Communist-backed military attacks against American forces and American allies in the Republic of Vietnam (South Vietnam), the declassified records posted are the first in three planned public releases scheduled for this year and 2019.  Director of National Intelligence (DNI) Daniel R. Coats asked IC agencies to conduct this project, based on the recommendation of the IC Senior Historians Panel.  Director Coats asked this Panel to identify topics of historical interest as part of an IC-wide effort to enhance public understanding of IC activities.   This project supports the IC’s Principles of Intelligence Transparency Implementation Plan (February 2015) and Principles of Intelligence Transparency (October 27, 2015) initiatives.

The declassification of these historical records align closely with the long-standing PIDB recommendations to conduct topic-based declassification review and to prioritize historically important records for declassification.  The PIDB also recommended that the IC should clearly define “sources and methods” to facilitate declassification and public release of no-longer sensitive information.

Specifically, this declassification action supports recommendations in PIDB’s 2012 Report to the President, Transforming Classification, and the 2014 PIDB Supplemental Report to the President, Setting Priorities.  Declassification projects like these aid public and historical knowledge, but they also benefit policymakers and practitioners seeking to learn lessons from the past.

While the 2014 PIDB supplemental report specifically recommended “topic-based declassification,” the 2012 PIDB report had already recommended that: “Each agency should have an in-house history staff to assist agency records officers and declassifiers in the prioritization of records,” so that “access to these historical records will aid policymakers in retrieving the documentary records of past policy decisions, lending context to contemporary decision-making while cataloging valuable information for future analysis and public release.”

The 2012 PIDB report recommended that: “The specific protections afforded intelligence sources and methods need to be precisely defined and distinguished,” for federal agencies to appropriately share and ultimately declassify intelligence information, just as the IC’s ambitious Tet Declassified website now so effectively does.

Named after the Vietnamese Lunar New Year, or “Tet” celebrations, which in 1968 fell on January 30 and coincided with the first surprise attacks by the North Vietnamese Army and local militants in the south, the Tet Offensive initially beleaguered such high-profile targets as the Presidential Palace and the U.S. Embassy in Saigon.  Although thwarted at the end of 1968 by American and South Vietnamese forces, the surprise and early success of the Tet Offensive began to undermine public support in the United States for the war in Vietnam.

The IC’s Tet Offensive Declassification Project represents an important step toward normalizing topic-based and prioritized declassification of historical records.  It is valuable to citizens seeking a better understanding of this event and will aid public discussion.  And it will aid agency policymaking on the lessons learned from historical experience.  The PIDB looks forward to the public release of the next installment, and to promoting similar initiatives by all executive-branch agencies.


Digital collections priorities, 2018-2019

New projects

People Not Property: Slave Deeds of North Carolina
A collaborative endeavor between the UNCG University Libraries, North Carolina Division of Archives and Records, and North Carolina Registers of Deeds among others. Working as an addition to and evolution of the Digital Library on American Slavery, the project is leading towards a unique, centralized database of bills of sales indexing the names of enslaved people from across North Carolina.When complete, People Not Property will include robust metadata, high resolution images, and full-text searchable transcripts. We hope to open the project to states beyond North Carolina, creating a central location for accessing and researching slave deeds from across the Southern United States.

Photos and Concert Programs of the UNCG Cello Music Collection
The proposed project is to digitize photographs and concert programs from 4 of the Cello Music Collections: Luigi Silva, Elizabeth Cowling, Rudolf Matz, and Ennio Bolognini. The digitization of these materials would enhance the existing cello digital music collections. The concert programs would allow researchers to track the performance careers of these cellists, and the photographs would add a visually appealing component to the collection, which would make the collection more attractive to non-musicians.

Bryan School Annual Reports
Digitize the Bryan School’s annual reports to the Provost, from 1969-70 to 2003-04. The Bryan School will be celebrating the 50th anniversary of its founding in the 2019-2020 academic year.

UNCG Graduate, Summer Session, and Extension Bulletins
Digitization of the bound graduate, summer session, and extension course bulletins. These will complement the undergraduate bulletins that were digitized several years ago, providing a complete picture of courses offered at UNCG since its founding. This will allow researchers to learn about these programs offered outside of the standard undergraduate curriculum.

Ongoing projects

Wordsworth for the Blind


One of the great things about working in a college library is that student research projects often send us digging into parts of the collections we probably wouldn’t have explored otherwise. Earlier this week I talked with a vision-impaired student who had consulted our twentieth-century braille edition of Worsdworth in the past. The published bibliography, The Amherst Wordsworth Collection, includes entries for two other editions of Wordsworth produced for blind readers in the nineteenth century.

Matthew Arnold’s edition of Wordsworth in braille

Matthew Arnold’s edition of Wordsworth in braille.

Before we go any further, I must give all the credit to the Perkins School for the Blind in Boston for their excellent summary of the history of Books for the Blind, a corner of printing history I had never explored before. Thanks to their site, we can situate the two nineteenth-century works within a wider context. The 1891 edition is printed under the auspices of the Perkins School with Boston Line Type, based on a system developed by Samuel Gridley Howe in 1835.

Wordsworth printed in Boston Line Type, 1891.

The Howe Memorial Press was named to honor the inventor of the Boston Line Type, a system of raised letterforms that can be read by touch as well as by sight. Here is a stanza from the poem “There is an Eminence” in Boston Line Type:

“There is an Eminence” in Boston Line Type, 1891.

In contrast to the Perkins School, Dr. Simon Pollak started using braille at the Missouri School for the Blind in 1860. We hold an 1896 edition of Wordsworth printed with the Missouri Braille system:

Wordsworth in Missouri Braille, 1896. Printed in St. Louis.

We are grateful to the person who took the time to add the title page information in ink, since this volume is entirely in Missouri Braille. As a bonus, the Missouri edition had a loose broadside tucked in the front with samples of multiple writing systems for the blind:

Alphabets for an Exhibit

Alphabets for an Exhibit, 1934

Although it’s difficult to make out in this image, the alphabets are Boston Line, “Moon’s Type,” New York Point, American Braille, and “Braille’s Type.”

Beyond simply holding copies of these items, there are clues to a closer connection between the Wordsworth collection and the Perkins School for the Blind. Both the 1891 and the 1896 editions have bookplates that indicate they were once part of the Perkins School library:

The final image that includes “Presented by Perkins Institution” suggests that the school may have given the volumes either to Cornelius Patton, who then gave them to Amherst, or they were donated to Amherst to add to Patton’s Wordsworth collections.

Archives holds one other item related to the Perkins School: The Life and Education of Laura Dewey Bridgman, the Deaf, Dumb, and Blind Girl:

Laura Dewey Bridgman, 1878

First published in 1878, this biography of the first deaf-blind student at Perkins to learn to read and write includes a facsimile of her first letter:

Laura Dewey Bridgman.


Desclasificación de los documentos de la Guerra Civil Española

Secretos en libertad

Documentos históricos. El entonces jefe del Estado, Francisco Franco, con uniforme de Aviación, pasa revista a las tropas alemanas el 22 de mayo de 1939. A su lado va el general Wolfram von Richthofen, jefe de la Legión Cóndor, que destruyó Gernika el 26 de abril de 1937 / 

Gutmaro Gómez Bravo lleva décadas estudiando lo que ocurrió en España antes, durante y después de que la Guerra Civil enfrentara a vecinos, hermanos y amigos, dejando un inmenso reguero de sangre. Por eso, la idea de que el Ministerio de Defensa se decida a desclasificar documentos militares de aquellos años infernales, le parece a este profesor de Historia Contemporánea de la Complutense el mejor de los regalos.

Para él, como para buena parte de la familia de investigadores de este país que se han dejado las pestañas estudiando aquella época, la situación y gestión de muchos de esos archivos es algo difícil de entender. «Es complicado explicar lo que llega a sentir uno sabiendo que están ahí y que no se pueden consultar. De algún modo, siempre tienes la impresión de que te falta algo. Por eso, la desclasificación de esos documentos es la mejor de las noticias, la llave que abre la puerta a la validación de muchos trabajos en algunos casos y el estímulo que anima a seguir e, incluso, a corregir si es necesario», dice quien atesora más de media docena de libros que analizan aquella época, ahora que Defensa ha decidido abrir 500 cajas del Archivo Militar de Ávila con documentación anterior a 1968.

Gómez Bravo asegura que, de poder acceder a ese enorme armario repleto de secretos, él iría de cabeza a consultar todos los documentos relacionados con la coordinación del golpe de Estado de 1936 a nivel territorial. «Eso tiene tela; es muy importante porque ahora sabemos que aquí o allí triunfaron unos u otros por diversas razones, pero son básicamente razones ideológicas. Acceder a esa documentación, que no es propaganda sino material de trabajo de aquel momento, desvelaría muchas incógnitas. Desde el funcionamiento, a las armas utilizadas, la financiación… Es fundamental manejar información sin contaminar porque eso es irrefutable, más allá de que, cada cual, haga luego la lectura que considere».

Ni él, ni colegas como Jorge Marco, se explican por qué, si en todos los países modernos está perfectamente regulado por ley este asunto, en España investigar determinados periodos recientes de nuestra historia es sumirse en una horrible pesadilla.
Reino Unido, todo facilidades

«El problema es que en España no disponemos de una ley que obligue a ir desclasificando documentos como ocurre en otros países. Aquí depende del gobierno de turno, sea del signo que sea. Y eso, aunque quieran percibirlo así, es una clara vulneración de los derechos de los ciudadanos. Es lógico pensar que debe haber cierto control sobre determinados documentos por razones de seguridad, pero estamos hablando de información que nada tienen que ver con eso», afirma Marco, profesor de Política y Estudios Internacionales en la Universidad de Bath (Reino Unido).

El historiador madrileño, experto en la violencia y la memoria de la Guerra Civil, asegura que se podría escribir un libro sobre las aventuras y desventuras de un investigador en España. «Realizando mi tesis estuve tres años intentando por todos los medios llegar a unos documentos y finalmente lo conseguí gracias a una suerte de cadena de contactos. Eso es inaceptable. En el Reino Unido voy al Foreign Office, saludo y consulto lo que quiero».

Él, si hoy le abrieran a la puerta a todo eso que lleva décadas bajo llave, iría directo a los archivos del Ministerio de Interior para investigar sobre la Brigada Político Social, vinculada a la Dirección General de Seguridad. «Llevo años intentándolo sin conseguirlo. En la época de Zapatero, el equipo de investigación del que formaba parte llegó incluso a reunirse con personas muy cercanas al presidente, pero nada. Una y otra vez nos repetían que aquellos documentos no estaban catalogados… y punto».

Marco, que nació en 1977, dos años después de la muerte de Franco, no entiende a quienes alimentan la idea de que recordar el pasado puede abrir viejas heridas, especialmente cuando muchos, como él o la profesora de la Universidad de Cantabria Rebeca Saavedra, pertenecen a una generación que no mira con rencor al pasado.
Bombardear el arte

Saavedra tampoco entiende que todos esos fondos, no solo los del Archivo Militar de Ávila, sino los que se atesoran en los ministerios de Interior, Exteriores, Defensa, Hacienda… de la Guardia Civil, la Policía… no estén al alcance de los ciudadanos. «Analizar esos archivos es la única manera de dar solvencia a tu trabajo», dice esta historiadora a la que le encantaría poder consultar las órdenes de bombardear diferentes objetivos en los últimos años de la guerra.

Autora del libro ‘Destruir y proteger. El patrimonio histórico artístico durante la Guerra Civil’, mantiene que conocer si se dieron órdenes de bombardear las rutas establecidas para la salida del patrimonio, si se hizo sabiendo lo que estaba en juego, o no, aclararía mucho las cosas. «Es vital que los fondos sean accesibles; que se abran. Ningún historiador puede pensar lo contrario».

Aquí las cosas no funcionan como deberían. Cada año, muchos historiadores españoles esperan con ansia la desclasificación de documentos secretos que de forma automática aplica el Gobierno británico. En el reino de Isabel II todos los archivos son públicos a partir de 30 años, y gracias a ellos supimos que Franco censuró el accidente nuclear de Palomares (Almería, 1966) o tuvimos noticias de la cooperación del franquismo con Hitler en lo que se bautizó como ‘Operación Carne Picada’.
«Necesitamos pruebas»

«Los historiadores necesitamos pruebas demostrativas y esas pruebas están ahí, en los archivos militares, en los de los organismos de la función pública, de la policía… son tan importantes como que, sin ellos, muchas veces no hay nada. ¿Qué deberíamos tener? Una buena ley es clave, decisiva para conservar con buena salud una democracia. Con garantías de seguridad, claro, pero es la condición para conservar la verdad», afirma Enrique Moradiellos, catedrático de Historia Contemporánea con una lista de reconocimientos (incluido el Premio Nacional de Historia) casi tan larga como el de publicaciones en las que bucea en la insurrección militar española de 1936, las dimensiones internacionales de la Guerra Civil o la figura del dictador.


Lo que dice la ley. La Ley de Transparencia, en su artículo 12, declara el principio del derecho de acceso a la información pública. Sin embargo, muy poco más allá, en el artículo 14, se encarga de fijar los «límites al derecho de acceso» y la lista de materias reservadas es larga. «El derecho de acceso podrá ser limitado cuando acceder a la información suponga un perjuicio para la seguridad nacional, la defensa, las relaciones exteriores, la seguridad pública, [.] los intereses económicos y comerciales, la política económica y monetaria [.], la garantía de la confidencialidad o el secreto requerido en procesos de toma de decisión, o la protección del medio ambiente».

Él (que ha acuñado eso de que «en el hoy están los ayeres» que repite cada año a sus alumnos, y que no ha tenido problema en afirmar que, si odias mucho a Franco, deberías dedicarte a estudiar música porque no sirves para historiador) reconoce con resignación que a ningún gobierno este asunto le ha parecido una prioridad. «Durante años, para acceder a determinados documentos había que contar con el permiso de tal o cual político o militar y, si el asunto estaba depositado en un archivo provincial, con el beneplácito del responsable de Cultura de turno de la Diputación. Ese no debería ser el criterio. Los archivos son nuestros laboratorios. Los cuadros se pintan con pequeñas pinceladas; hay que conocer muchas pequeñas cosas para saber qué pasó».

Su sueño sería poder acceder a las cartas que Franco escribió a Hitler, Mussolini y Oliveira Salazar, algunas durante la guerra. «No es solo saber qué dice, sino cómo lo dice. La forma, la palabra exacta con la que se refiere al enemigo, si hay algo corregido… Todo eso es importante porque puede abrir muchas puertas. Es fundamental colocarse ante las reliquias del pasado. Reliquia, al fin y al cabo, significa aquello que permanece».


De nuevo son noticia Los Papeles de Salamanca

Salvar el Archivo demandará al Gobierno en la Audiencia Nacional si no vuelven los fondos

                                 Mario Conde y Policarpo Sánchez intervinieron ayer en la presentación de la                              nueva junta directiva de la asociación Salvar el Archivo. / 

Los 400.000 documentos del Archivo de la Guerra Civil que fueron enviados en sucesivas remesas a Cataluña desde el año 2006 vuelven a situarse en el ojo del huracán informativo. La asociación Salvar el Archivo anunció ayer que el próximo mes de octubre emprenderá una nueva estrategia para reclamar al Gobierno de Pedro Sánchez que ordene la devolución al Palacio de San Ambrosio de los denominados ‘papeles de Salamanca’, que fueron entregados al Govern catalán de forma ilegal.

El presidente de la asociación, Policarpo Sánchez, adelantó ayer las acciones que emprenderá esta formación, coincidiendo con la presentación pública de los nuevos miembros de la junta directiva de la asociación, entre los que figuran el controvertido expresidente de Banesto y abogado del Estado, Mario Conde, y el periodista Herman Tertsch.

Sánchez avanzó que el próximo mes de octubre «vamos a reclamar por la vía administrativa, y si ésta no resulta favorable, mediante demanda civil ante la Audiencia Nacional, al Gobierno de España la devolución de los fondos expoliados del Archivo de Salamanca». Además, la asociación emprenderá acciones legales demandando «por vía civil, penal o ambas» a la Generalitat catalana y a los «responsables directos del intento de ocultación de los documentos y bienes que están obligados a devolver». En concreto, la demanda consistirá en una querella contra los que fueron responsables de la Consejería catalana de Cultura entre los años 2006 y 2015.

Esta nueva fase de la estrategia reivindicativa de Salvar el Archivo incluirá también la organización de actos en diferentes ciudades españolas con el objetivo de «poner de nuevo en el foco del debate nacional el tema del Archivo de Salamanca». Con estas actuaciones se persigue especialmente «generar presión al Gobierno de Pedro Sánchez» y «pedirle públicamente que cumpla la sentencia del Tribunal Superior de Justicia de Cataluña y la sentencia del Tribunal Constitucional que nos dan la razón», enfatizo Policarpo Sánchez.

Por su parte, Mario Conde recalcó que el Archivo de Salamanca es sinónimo de «historia y cultura» y atribuyó a razones políticas la fragmentación que ha padecido y que desembocó finalmente en el incumplimiento, incluso, de resoluciones dictadas por los jueces.

«Me alegro de estar aquí», verbalizó Conde, quien recordó que fue el Gobierno de José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero y, concretamente, la entonces ministra de Cultura, Carmen Calvo –actual vicepresidenta del Gobierno de Sánchez– la que autorizó la salida de los legajos, ya que el Ejecutivo socialista «necesitaba los votos de los nacionalistas catalanes para otra finalidad» y luego ese respaldo se tradujo en «la fragmentación de un archivo histórico».

Asimismo, Conde denunció que la Generalitat de Cataluña haya actuado como «juez y parte» en la selección de los documentos de acuerdo a la Ley de Restitución y que «ha cometido abusos». Estos excesos los asignó a que «muchísimos documentos no catalanes han sido trasladados», entre ellos de Valencia, Madrid, Asturias y Aragón.

El exbanquero lamentó también que, además de arrebatarlos de manera indebida, no se hayan fotocopiado y que los que no han podido ser entregados a sus legítimos propietarios, tal y como contempla una sentencia del Tribunal Constitucional, no han retornado al Centro Documental de la Memoria Histórica. En este sentido, evidenció que el Gobierno de España y, en concreto, el Ministerio de Cultura, a pesar de ese fallo judicial, no esté haciendo «nada». De hecho, precisó que «la misma ministra que ordenó sacarlos es la que ahora no quiere devolverlos». También justificó la existencia de esta asociación porque el Estado «renuncia a hacer lo que tiene que hacer como es el cumplimiento de resoluciones judiciales».

Durante sus reflexiones, Conde confesó que le gusta que la agrupación Salvar el Archivo sea un movimiento «estrictamente de la sociedad en defensa de unos archivos que son patrimonio de todos los españoles». También dejó claro que, personalmente, no tiene ningún interés en sentar en el banquillo a nadie y sí en recuperar los documentos para Salamanca y «esperemos que el Estado cumpla con su misión». En este sentido, aseveró que «detrás de la inacción del Estado parece existir una ilógica política que ha afectado tanto al PP como al PSOE».

Fábulas del nacionalismo

El periodista Hermann Tertsch engarzó la reclamación salmantina con la «situación extraordinaria» que vive el país. «Hay zonas de España donde no se pueden ejercer las libertades, donde no se aplica la Constitución y donde se destruyen documentos», sentenció. También acusó al Ejecutivo catalán de «adoctrinamiento en el odio y la hispanofobia» y del «secuestro de partes de la historia que aluden a Cataluña y la posible destrucción de esas partes que no les convienen para la historia que están inventando», dejando clara su profunda desconfianza y frontal oposición hacia «las fábulas que nos cuenta el nacionalismo». Incluso llegó a definir a los Mossos d’ Escuadra como «una policía política de los golpistas».


Heritage 2022: Instituto Británico del Cine salva su patrimonio cinematográfico

Cómo está salvando Instituto Británico del Cine su patrimonio cinematográfico

Stephen McConnachie, del British Film Institute, explica cómo la organización está digitalizando y manteniendo una película de hace cientos de años y cómo está salvando imágenes en movimiento de maquinaria obsoleta.

En 2012, el Instituto Británico del Cine lanzó un ambicioso programa para digitalizar las imágenes de las películas de archivo con el fin de preservar la historia de las imágenes en movimiento de Gran Bretaña. ‘Desbloquear el patrimonio cinematográfico’ vería más de 10.000 películas de archivos regionales y nacionales digitalizadas, preservadas y finalmente puestas a disposición del público.

El trabajo que realizan los documentalistas de BFI está evitando que el patrimonio cinematográfico se pierda en el tiempo. Sin la tecnología adecuada, las herramientas y los conjuntos de habilidades, el contenido que está en los “operadores” (la jerga de la industria para los objetos que almacenan el contenido) permanecerá bloqueado allí para siempre. El equipo tiene una frase para el fenómeno: “varado en el dominio analógico”.

El plan original de cinco años de Unlocking Film Heritage comenzó con un largo proceso de adquisición que llevó al equipo de archivo del BFI a elegir soluciones de almacenamiento en cinta de SpectraLogic, intermediadas por especialistas en integradores de sistemas de OvationData.

Una vez que se resolvió el proceso de adquisición del patrimonio de desbloqueo cinematográfico, el equipo se dedicó a construir, solucionar problemas y configurar la infraestructura, lo que llevó aproximadamente dos años. Cuando todo estaba funcionando, comenzaron un proyecto de “ingesta” para llenarlo con los datos nacionales de recolección, lo que llevó otros dos años, sumando aproximadamente 2 petabytes de datos en la actualidad. En este proyecto, los archiveros reunieron y digitalizaron películas regionales y nacionales de tiendas de toda Gran Bretaña.

Este proyecto inicial de cinco años llegó a su fin en 2017, pero el BFI inició un nuevo programa de preservación llamado Heritage 2022, que apunta a digitalizar cintas de video y que reutilizará la infraestructura creada por primera vez en el programa Unlocking Film Heritage.

La tecnología
Se instalaron dos bibliotecas de cintas Spectra Logic T950 en un sitio de BFI en Hertfordshire, separadas físicamente por motivos de resistencia y unidas por un cable de fibra óptica de 10 GB por segundo.

Están configurados con unidades de cinta y medios LTO-6, así como con cintas IBM TS1150para “diversidad de medios”, brindando resistencia adicional a la mesa en lugar de contar con la única tecnología que es compatible. Una de las bibliotecas puede escalar para almacenar 20PBs sin expansión, algo que los sistemas tendrán para el futuro, espera BFI, entre cinco y 10 años.

Un problema importante para los documentalistas es el gran tamaño de los archivos creados para preservación digital. Una película en 2K puede alcanzar 2 TB, y como la calidad de las películas aumenta con 4K y más, los tamaños de archivo también aumentan. Una interfaz API de reposo para los sistemas SpectraLogic llamada BlackPearl actúa como una puerta de enlace entre el equipo BFI y las propias bibliotecas de cintas.

Carrera contra el tiempo

La tarea” gigantesca “de rescatar películas de formatos obsoletos es sorprendente. Hace 30 años había formatos de video del sector de difusión que se utilizaron para crear programas de televisión, explica McConnachie. Así que hay cientos de formatos, todos ellos completamente obsoletos. Y por obsoleto, consideran que no puede comprar las máquinas en el mercado ya que la fabricación se ha detenido, solo se puede comprar las máquinas de segunda mano. Lo que intentamos hacer es conseguir que las personas con estas habilidades capaciten al personal más joven en sus equipos, transmitan sus conocimientos y lo documenten.

Cuando ves que funciona sin problemas, ves la película en el estante, la escaneas con un código de barras, la llevas a su sala de digitalización y se convierte en 0 y 1 y entran en un sistema … luego ves a alguien en el sitio de Southbank se sienta y mira esa película en una pantalla. Es un trabajo muy satisfactorio, señala McConnachie.

La conexión de 10 GB por segundo que el BFI construyó con OvationData ayuda a mover esos archivos de alta velocidad de bits. La BFI se ocupa principalmente de formatos extremadamente grandes que no están comprimidos, a diferencia de los archivos con los que la mayoría de los consumidores estarán familiarizados. Eso genera aún más complicaciones: la organización tuvo que adquirir un firewall de nivel empresarial capaz de manejar ese tráfico pesado, especialmente porque al final de la tubería los archivos están preparados para el acceso libre en la web.

Si la preservación se trata de mantener el pasado para ser disfrutado por las generaciones en el futuro, hay desafíos intrínsecos en el futuro – a prueba de cualquier sistema que se construya o adquiera, especialmente en el mundo digital en continuo movimiento.

El componente de la solución SpectraLogic es la interfaz BlackPearl mencionada anteriormente, por lo que los datos pueden recuperarse fácilmente e incluso manejarse con automatización utilizando scripts. Para el BFI, el hecho de que sus propios desarrolladores pudieran trabajar con el sistema sin ayuda externa fue una gran ventaja de las máquinas SpectraLogic.

The Bulletins of Tallahassee’s First Baptist Church

Through an ongoing collaboration with The First Baptist Church of Tallahassee, we have been working to digitize and share all of the church’s published bulletins from the 1930s through today. This collaboration is one of several FSU Libraries’ projects aimed at bringing community collections online.

The First Baptist Church’s bulletins typically consist of community updates, upcoming events, Sunday programs, and other information centered around the congregation. Each pamphlet contains photos and unique illustrations related to the events occurring at the time.

Page from The Voice of the First Baptist Church Volume 21. Number 19, October 23rd, 1986
Page from The Voice of the First Baptist Church Volume 21. Number 19, October 23rd, 1986 [See original object]

As we continue adding more material to this collection in DigiNole, visitors can gain a better understanding of what life was like in Tallahassee from the perspective of the church. The first three batches of bulletins up to 1989 are now available while those printed in the 1990s will be uploaded next month.

The bulletins are just one phase of this collaboration with The First Baptist Church of Tallahassee, so keep an eye out for future updates to see what’s coming up next.

IARPA Director, Leading Program Scientists Tout “Human Machine Team”

On September 18, 2018, a new Defense One Breakfast Series opened with a high-level panel discussion on “the critical mission imperative of artificial intelligence.”  In a lively exchange, IARPA Director Stacey Dixon, former IBM Watson Director Rob High, ODNI Senior Scientist David Honey, and Senior Scientist Michael Wolmetz of the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, each stressed the importance for national security of advancing United States Government initiatives in developing artificial intelligence (AI) to augment human analysis and intelligence collection.

Dr. High, formerly Director of IBM Watson and currently Vice President and Chief Technology Officer of IBM, pointedly argued that while demonstrating the capability of machines to beat human opponents at chess, IBM Watson had most significantly proven that a team combining human and machine capabilities will consistently defeat machines alone.

Although Dr. High and the other panelists more generally found the greatest potential for AI in combination with human capabilities, their examples focused on advances in machine capabilities such as facial recognition and human language processing.  On the whole, “The Human Machine Team” panel mostly hinted at the potential for machines to augment human performance, without much engaging timely issues of how human organizations must adapt to the dynamic implementation of rapidly emerging technologies.

Indeed, during the brief question-and-answer period at the close of the event, a working intelligence analyst challenged the panelists to consider whether the Intelligence Community itself is yet prepared for the generational influx of analysts who already enter the profession thoroughly adapted to the use of constantly improving technologies in every aspect of their lives.

As the first in what should be ongoing public discussions by prominent leaders of advanced research in the Intelligence Community, one can hope that the next DefenseOne Breakfast Series event will further develop how AI and other emerging technologies must transform and modernize the outmoded processes and legacy systems that still remain so widely in place across the executive branch.

Updating the Heritage Museum

A guest post by Brianna McLean, currently working with Heritage & University Archives on exhibit development.

Dodd Hall Library, ca. 1920s (Jewell Genevieve Cooper Scrapbook, 1924-1930).  http://purl.flvc.org/fcla/dt/1925009
Dodd Hall Library, ca. 1920s (Jewell Genevieve Cooper Scrapbook, 1924-1930). http://purl.flvc.org/fcla/dt/1925009

Starting with the institution’s inception as the Seminary West of the Suwannee River in 1851, a new exhibit I’ve been working on for the Heritage Museum follows the timeline of Florida State University through important historic milestones: the Civil War; Florida State College and Florida State College for Women (FSCW); the World Wars; Integration and the Civil Rights Movement; the rapid development through the end of the 20th Century; and today.

If you are new to campus and have not had a chance to stop by the Heritage Museum in Dodd Hall, it is a quiet place to study, read, and relax during your busy week. The museum is the location of the original library for FSU, which makes it the perfect location on campus to learn about FSU’s history and enjoy the gorgeous Collegiate Gothic architecture and iconic stained glass. This building functioned as FSU’s library from its construction in 1923 until Robert Manning Strozier Library was built in 1956. Dr. William George Dodd was born in 1874 and served as an English professor of the Florida State College for Women and Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences from 1910-1944. He contributed greatly to FSU, including publishing History of West Florida Seminary in 1952.

Dodd Hall Library, 1964 (FSU Historical Photographs Collection). http://purl.flvc.org/fcla/dt/124370
Dodd Hall Library, 1964 (FSU Historical Photographs Collection). http://purl.flvc.org/fcla/dt/124370

As a researcher for this new exhibit, I had the pleasure of learning all about FSU and all the people who made it possible to attend school here today. As a student at FSU since 2012, first as an undergraduate and now as a graduate student, I thought that I knew a great deal about FSU’s history. After combing through numerous books, articles, documents, and photographs, I realized there are so many hidden gems to be found in our history. Some of my favorite stories include the origin of garnet and gold, the traditions of the women of FSCW, the history of protest on our campus, and our relationship with the Seminole Tribe of Florida. One of the most comprehensive collections on FSU’s history is the FSU Historical Photograph Collection, from which most of the images in the exhibit will come. Some of the best secondary resources include the works of Dr. William Dodd, Mike Rashotte, Robin Sellers, Gerald Ensley, and Dr. Jennifer Koslow.

Dodd Hall Today, taken with my phone.
Dodd Hall Today, taken with my phone.

Interested in donating to the Heritage Fund or materials to the Archive? Please contact Heritage & University Archivist, Sandra Varry.

Heritage Museum Hours: Monday through Thursday, 10am-4pm. For up-to-date museum and library hours, please visit, https://fsu.libcal.com/hours/.

On the Media’s Big Bang

Why are YOU mad at the media?

That was the question host Brian Lehrer posed to listeners on the frigid morning of Sunday, February 7, 1993, during the premiere of a WNYC-AM call-in show titled Inside Media. A few weeks later, the existence of a media trade magazine of the same name necessitated a change, and On the Media was born. The stated intent of the show was to “find out what it is ordinary people want to know,” and its mission was “covering those who cover the news and reporting on reporters” — a worthy endeavor, since “one of the things the media does worst on a day-to-day basis is to cover itself … It covers its interests by not covering its issues.”

Lehrer welcomed the guests for the first hour of that very first show, all movers and shakers in the world of journalism: Everette Dennis, executive director of the show’s co-producer, the Freedom Forum Media Studies Center at Columbia University; Suzanne Braun Levine, editor of Columbia Journalism Review; Donna Minkowitz of the Village Voice; and Kenneth Woodward of Newsweek. The panel ran through the major stories of the day: USA Today divulging the HIV status of tennis icon Arthur Ashe, press coverage of the then-current topic of gays in the military, and Bill Clinton’s difficulty in finding an Attorney General nominee.

The panelists also discussed what made the show’s callers mad about the media. The callers, beginning with the outspoken “Larry in Manhattan”, gave Brian and his guests plenty to respond to: media sensationalism (see Amy Fisher and Joey Buttafuocco), the influence of corporate ownership on the media, and much more.

For the show’s second hour, Lehrer hosted Columbia University presidential historian Henry Graff, Eleanor Clift of Newsweek, and Susan Page of Newsday for a discussion (with callers) on the unflattering press coverage of the less-than-three-weeks-old Clinton presidency. Anyone who thinks hostilities between the press and certain American presidents is a recent phenomenon may be surprised by this snapshot of the media’s relationship with the Clinton administration.

Lehrer would host the show for the first two weeks, and was followed by Warren Levinson of the Associated Press. After several other locally-based journalists tried their hands as host, the microphone was eventually handed to Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times reporter Alex S. Jones — not to be confused, of course, with the infamous, non-Pulitzer-prize-winning Alex Jones of InfoWars.

Though the debut episode wasn’t On the Media as it exists today, February 7, 1993 was the show’s Big Bang moment. Listening back now is a lot like taking a time machine back a quarter century, getting out, and realizing that the media and political landscapes of the early nineties are actually pretty similar to today’s.

Whatever Happened to Ice-T?

“Not only did they take that Ice-T record off the market, they got rid of him.”

At least, that was the take of journalist Playthell Benjamin on the December 12, 1993 episode of On the Media, when host Alex S. Jones and his guests took on gangsta rap. Ice-T and his rap/metal group Body Count had released the song “Cop Killer” the year before, and police, politicians, and many in the media had successfully pressured Warner Bros. Records to pull the album and drop him from their roster.

For a brief moment, some common ground was found on the radio, as Benjamin joined First Amendment absolutist Nat Hentoff of the Village Voice and Scott Baird and Ben Mapp from the music industry for a colorful and confrontational discussion on violent and sexually explicit rap lyrics.

Unsurprisingly, the issue was as difficult to kill as Ice-T’s career. Nearly a year-and-a-half later, a group led by William Bennett, Empower America, Bob Dole, and civil rights leader C. Delores Tucker were pressuring Time-Warner to stop releasing songs with violent lyrics, including hit singles by rappers like Dr. Dre and Snoop Doggy Dogg and rockers like Nine Inch Nails. This led to a reprise of the topic on On The Media, with guest host Brian Lehrer leading a more cerebral, but equally contentious, discussion with Empower America’s Bill Dal Col, journalist and critic Stanley Crouch, Katha Pollitt of The Nation, and professor and writer Michael Eric Dyson.

Why did rap lead to some of the most hostile discussions in the early days of On the Media? And whatever happened to Ice-T, Dr. Dre, and Snoop Doggy Dogg and the other rappers many of these guests deemed destined for the dumpster of pop culture history?

As it turns out, at least one of these notorious disruptors of law and order crossed over to the other side of the thin blue line—on television, at least.

On the Entrance Ramp to the Information Superhighway

As you read this on the Internet, you may be in a cafe or on a train platform surrounded by people engrossed in the digital information pouring out of their Internet-enabled devices. At this point, we are all part of the estimated nearly 300 million Internet users in the U.S.

But in 1994, only 11 million households had computers equipped with modems that could access popular services like America Online, CompuServe, and Prodigy, as well as — for those who dared — the recently launched and still very mysterious World Wide Web. If you were an Internet user in 1994, when On the Media first addressed the issue, you were in the vast minority.

This was the world in which On the Media host Alex S. Jones, a digital naif, hosted several discussions on how this new “Information Superhighway” might change the way Americans consume media, and how that media might change to accommodate the new interactive platform. The topic was appropriate for On the Media, which regularly questioned how new technologies, from the burgeoning interactive online world to the introduction of lightweight cameras, would change the way news is reported.

One prominent issue the show covered was the generation gap between media members: Many older journalists were uncomfortable posting in online forums and having their words disseminated without copy editors or fact checkers. Who could afford to go online? Who would control access? Who would control content? Would it become a Misinformation Superhighway?

In a sea of doubt, some chose to forge ahead anyway: on the March 27, 1994 show, guest John Perry Barlow, one of the founders of the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), and occasional lyricist for The Grateful Dead, discussed how the Deadhead community were trailblazers truckin’ down the Information Superhighway.

Today, when almost everyone has a video camera in their pocket and media figures, politicians, and other public figures leverage the immediacy of social media to create and communicate with their often disparate audiences, it is fun to look back to the time when we were all stuck on the entrance ramp, merging onto the Information Superhighway without much of a map, let alone a GPS.  

“Something blew up under the World Trade Center…”

“Something blew up under the World Trade Center on Friday and New York was converted, via newspaper headlines, to a city under siege—a place where no one is safe.”  

On the morning of February 28, 1993 — two days after an explosion turned the World Trade Center’s subfloors to rubble, killing six and injuring more than 1,000 — Warren Levinson introduced the fourth week of Inside Media, which would return two weeks later as On the Media. The first hour of the show was planned to be about the media’s coverage of the run up to America’s military intervention in Bosnia, but the explosion made that story seem like an afterthought. Broadcast live less than 48 hours after the explosion, there were not yet any official reports on the cause of the blast, so speculation by the media was running rampant as to whether or not it was a bombing and, if so, who was responsible. With troops about to land in Bosnia, some suspected a party related to that dispute, while rumors of a phone call from a Colombian source claiming responsibility also circulated.

Levinson’s guests that day included Jane Hall, a New York-based Los Angeles Times reporter (and future On the Media host) and Anne Nelson, executive director of the Committee to Protect Journalists. The panel explored the story’s local and national angles: How was the ensuing destruction and investigation affecting travel into and around the city? How did the local media inform and, in some cases, aid the public in the immediate aftermath of the blast? How did this confirm the national narrative of New York as a violent hellhole after what Jane Hall called “the urban nightmare” had actually happened? Were some in the media behaving irresponsibly for quickly dubbing it a terrorist attack without official confirmation?

This episode provides a fascinating snapshot of a time of much uncertainty and resiliency, and in retrospect, a precursor to 9/11 and the events that would follow.

Vancouver Elections: New Video Wall Show

With the 2018 civic election set for October 20, and advance polls October 10-17, we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to search through our holdings to see what election-related material would make an interesting and new video wall show. As the official repository for the City’s records of archival value, our holdings are rich in election-related material. These records give insight into how Vancouver and its electoral system has developed and changed throughout the years. The changes range from who could run for election, and who could vote, to frequency of elections, to the abolishment of the ward system, to what topics ruled the various plebiscites in a particular election year. A sampling of these records–photographs, posters, maps, and other visually interesting textual records–has been captured in the latest addition to our video wall shows: Vancouver Elections.

Council room at City Hall, ca. 1910. Reference code: AM336-S3-2-: CVA 677-82

The invention of photography preceded the incorporation of Vancouver in 1886, which means that there are photographs of the first elected city officials, including the first mayor, and the first City Hall in our holdings. Later photographs capture significant milestones in Vancouver’s political arena. A photograph showing Helena Gutteridge, the first woman elected to City Council, taking her oath of office in 1937 represents one of these milestones.

Helena Gutteridge, first alderwoman, taking the oath of office, 1937. Reference code: AM54-S4-: Port P276.1

Other photographs featured include “Old City Hall”, located at 423 Westminster Street (now Main Street), the laying of the corner stone at the current City Hall in 1936, and a shot of a group of men taken that same year, who voted in Vancouver’s first election fifty years earlier.

Other election items featured in the video wall show include Gutteridge’s nomination paper for Alderman, sample ballots, tallies of election results, and posters and postcards encouraging people to vote.

Election ballot sheet, 1921. Reference code (for file): AM336-S2–

This latest edition to our video wall shows will be exhibiting in the Archives’ gallery space, as well as in the City Hall rotunda across from the elevators during this election season. You can also view it on YouTube, along with past video wall shows.

For more information on Vancouver’s civic election, visit vancouver.ca/vote

Isaac Stern On His 1956 Tour of the Soviet Union

On May 3, 1956, the 35-year-old violinist Isaac Stern became the first American concert artist to perform in Moscow’s Grand Conservatory Hall in ten years. Despite the Cold War between the Soviet Union and the United States being firmly underway, Stern was hailed through five encores and warmly embraced by Russia’s leading violinist David Oistrakh.

The Moscow performances, accompanied by Alexander Zakin on piano, were the start of a month-long tour that would take the violin virtuoso to Leningrad, Kiev, Baku, Tiflis, and Erivan before his finishing-up back in Moscow. 

It is worth noting that this tour was undertaken two years before Van Cliburn’s winning performance at the Tchaikovsky International Piano Competition, often cited as an example of music’s power to bring about reconciliation and as the beginning of a cultural thaw between the two superpowers. 

In his interview with WQXR Music Director Abram Chasins, Stern reflects on the warmth of the Russian people in the streets and their desire to know more about the world at a time when trustworthy information was the leading casualty of the Cold War. His take was based on his experiences in those six Soviet cities: The amazing number of orchestras to be found in the Soviet Union; the high standards of performance at their conservatories; their broad knowledge of the classical repertoire; the shockingly poor conditions of rare violins and other instruments; the sizable state support for artists and musicians; and the significant number of music students eager to learn and of audiences, eager to listen. 

We the People of the United States…

Constitution Day and Citizenship day, celebrated every year on September 17, marks the 1787 signing of the U.S. Constitution, which defines the U.S. Government and outlines the fundamental rights of all citizens. As the guardians of the nation’s Charters of Freedom, including the Constitution, we serve a key role in this yearly celebration.

Thirty-one new United States naturalized citizens took the oath of allegiance on Constitution Day on Monday at the National Archives Rotunda in Washington, DC. Sworn in just steps away from the Charters of Freedom—the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights—the new Americans hail from 25 different countries: Australia, Cameroon, Chile, China, Colombia, Ecuador, El Salvador, Eritrea, Ethiopia, France, The Gambia, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Nepal, Peru, Philippines, Romania, Spain, Togo, United Kingdom, and Vietnam.

Image of naturalized U.S. citizens taking the oath of allegiance at the Naturalization Ceremony
Thirty-one naturalized U.S. citizens take the oath of allegiance at the Naturalization Ceremony held at the National Archives’ Rotunda in Washington, DC, on Constitution Day, September 17, 2018. (National Archives photo by Kelsey Bell)

Guest speaker the Honorable Caroline Kennedy, former U.S. Ambassador to Japan, expressed her gratitude at being able to share the “special day” with the new citizens. Kennedy said, “Every time I enter this Rotunda, I am overwhelmed with the privilege and the responsibility that comes with being an American.”

Image of the Honorable Caroline Kennedy with Nii Armah Dagadu, originally from Ghana, who was sworn in as a new American citizen at the event.
The Honorable Caroline Kennedy provided the keynote address at the Naturalization Ceremony held at the National Archives on Constitution Day, September 17, 2018. Nii Armah Dagadu, originally from Ghana, was sworn in as a new American citizen at the event. (National Archives photo by Kelsey Bell)

“America is the only country founded on an ideal,” Kennedy added. “We have no king, no official church or language—we are bound to each other by our shared commitment to the ideals and values of freedom, equality, opportunity, tolerance, diversity, and the rule of law. The fact that ours is the oldest written constitution still in use is a testament to the enduring power of those ideas, and to the skill with which the Founders framed them.”

The first and signature pages of the Constitution have been on display since the entire document came here from the Library of Congress in 1952. In 1970, for the first time ever, we displayed all four pages of the original document during Constitution Week. Doing so was the idea of Assistant Archivist for Educational Programs Frank Burke after having a conversation with a visitor inquiring why all pages were not on public view. Since 2003 all four pages of the document have been on display for more than a million visitors each year.

I encourage you to visit the National Archives News page on Constitution Day, where you can find events and resources about the Constitution, read a transcript of the Constitution or watch a number of related videos. Let us reflect on our privilege as public servants and as Americans. Take a few moments to read the Constitution as citizens united by its enduring value to our nation. We hold in trust the records that tell our nation’s story.

Our First City Archivist – Major J.S. Matthews

There is never a day that passes at the Archives when we don’t mention Major Matthews’ name or appreciate his legacy. While he was very much a man of his time, the fruits of his efforts to document and collect the historical records of Vancouver’s development form the cornerstone of our private-sector holdings, and the importance of his role as advocate for their continued care and preservation cannot be overstated.

The Archivist at Work – Major Matthews, 1941. Reference code: AM54-S4-: Port P567

Born in Wales, September 7, 1878 and educated in Auckland, New Zealand, Matthews headed for North America at the age of 20 to make his fortune, landing in San Francisco. Moving up the coast he made brief stays in Tacoma, Seattle and Victoria, before making Vancouver his permanent home.

Major Matthews, 1916. Reference Code: AM54-S4-: Port P1179

Over the course of his working life he held a variety of positions, including a 20-year stint with Imperial Oil. He joined a local militia unit in 1903 and during the First World War was transferred to regular forces. He served in Europe from February 1916 to May 1918, eventually attaining the rank of ‘Major,’ a title he would use for the rest of his life. After the war Matthews operated his own scow and tug business for a time, eventually retiring in 1924.

Panoramic view of the City of Vancouver, 1998, map reputed to be the first item Major Matthews collected upon his arrival in 1898. AM1594-: MAP 547

Always an avid collector of photography and ephemera, it was at this stage in the Major’s life that his full attention was turned towards the collection and documentation of the City’s history.

Major Matthews’ house at 1158 Arbutus St, 1931. Reference Code: AM54-S4-: Bu P803

After filling every nook and cranny of his home in Kitsilano, he began a prolonged campaign to find a permanent and more appropriate home for the voluminous and steadily growing collection of documents, photographs, and other memorabilia he had amassed. He first attained space in 1931 in the attic of the old City Hall on Main Street, a location that by all accounts was cold, dirty, and inadequate for the storage of irreplaceable historical documents. City staff had relocated to temporary quarters in the Holden Building on East Hastings Street in 1929, enabling the Carnegie Library next door to use the space as an annex and reading room. The City Museum had space on an upper floor.

First Archives room on Main Street, 1931. Reference Code: AM54-S4-: City N11

In 1933, amid public concern that Vancouver’s historical records should be preserved, and quite a bit of behind the scenes lobbying by the likes of the Provincial Archivist John Hosie (who had become a strong supporter of Matthews’ archival work) and former Mayor LD Taylor, City Council finally and unequivocally appointed Major Matthews City Archivist, making him and his work officially part of the City government. He was 55, and would hold the position until his death in 1970.

By enlisting the help and support of prominent local personalities, the Archives was moved several times. The first was in 1933 to the temporary City Hall in the Holden Building on East Hastings.

First City Archives room at temporary City Hall in the Holden Building. Reference Code: AM54-S4-: City N19

First City Archives room at temporary City Hall in the Holden Building, with archival assistant Margaret Giles seated at the desk. Reference Code: AM54-S4-: City N20

The second was in 1936 to the brand new City Hall at Cambie and W. 12th Avenue.

Dr. D.P. Pandia, Secretary to Mahatma Gandhi with Major Matthews at the City Archives in the new City Hall, ~1939. Reference Code: AM54-S4-: Port N164.1

The third, was in 1959 to the Main Library at 750 Burrard Street, despite Matthews’ desire to be close to City Hall. He viewed the move as a five-year temporary solution, but was still there in the late 1960s, continuing to argue with Council over his priorities and the Archives budget right up until his death in 1970.

Interior view of the City Archives, Burrard Street, showing Mrs. Jean Gibbs, Assistant City Archivist and another woman at work, 1959. Reference Code:  AM54-S4-: Port P1626.1

During this period of frequent moves Matthews was also embroiled in a controversy with the City over ownership of the materials, at one point even relocating the holdings back to his home in protest.

Major and Mrs. J.S. Matthews sign documents to appoint responsibility for the Archives’ holdings to a board of trustees, 1938. Reference Code: AM54-S4-: Port P352.3

In 1939, he reluctantly signed an agreement that turned the authority to manage the collection over to a board of trustees, with one caveat, that the City Archivist have the final say in the disposal of any item in the collection. His wife Emily, his trusted advisor for almost 30 years, signed with him.

Photographic reproduction of an architectural rendering depicting the City of Vancouver Archives and the Museum of Vancouver in Vanier Park, 1974????? Reference Code: AM1376-: CVA 88-1

Ever the outspoken advocate for a permanent, dedicated space for the Archives, Major Matthews did not live to see the completion of our current facility, which opened to coincide with the provincial centenary in 1972. Designed by McCarter and Nairn, and named in Matthews’ honour, the Major Matthews Building was the first municipal archives repository in Canada to be built for the sole purpose of housing a city’s archives, a fitting legacy for a man so dedicated to preserving the documentary heritage of our city.

[Editor’s note: This post, the first in a series recounting the accomplishments of our City Archivists, was written by Megan Schlase and originally appeared in Archives Newsletter Number 3: October 2006]

A Strength of Snells

A pounce of cats.  A crash of rhinos.  A gaze of raccoons. A prudence of vicars.  A strength of Snells.

Whenever I think of the Snell family of Western Massachusetts, I think of collective nouns, especially the entertaining “terms of venery.” The Snells are such a distinct unit that they seem to demand their own term.  There are a lot of them, so there are many lives to follow and stories to be told.  And they’re tight-knit.  Something —  maybe it’s from those early days as a big family in North Brookfield – bound them together, even when some of them ended up on the other side of the country.  So there’s a strength to them as a group, and that suggests their term, a “strength of Snells.” It’s not as colorful as “a murder of crows,” but it certainly describes the Snells.

The Snells are of particular interest to us because of their links to Amherst College.  If you’re even a little familiar with Amherst’s early history, you’re likely to have heard of Professor Ebenezer Strong Snell (1801-1876), known to his family as Strong.  Strong was about 14 when his father, Reverend Thomas Snell, a trustee of Williams College, was meeting with other trustees to discuss whether Williams should move to Hampshire County, and Strong was a student at Williams College during the September 1818 “Convention of the Congregational and Presbyterian Clergy,” when his father participated in discussions about an institution of higher learning in Amherst.  To make a long, complicated story short, a new college was finally formed in Amherst and Reverend Snell’s old friend President Zephaniah Swift Moore of Williams was chosen to lead it.  Shortly thereafter, in September 1821, Strong Snell and a small group of students accompanied Moore from Williams College to Amherst to open the new institution.

Strong’s senior year therefore took place at Amherst College. Many decades later, he reminisced, “I was the first individual ever admitted to Amherst College. For Dr. Moore, having heard my examination at Williams College, received me, without requiring another examination, which was the case with no other.”* Strong was one of two students to graduate in the first class (a third having left before the end of the year). His father, Reverend Snell, continued to support the new college by participating in President Moore’s inauguration ceremony and serving for 33 years on the Board of Overseers of the Charity Fund, 15 of them as Secretary.  Given this history, it would not be surprising if both Strong and his father were deeply attached to the College and if Reverend Snell regarded it as one of his children.

Reverend Snell’s children – the human ones – numbered ten. Thanks to a 2017 gift of 24 daguerreotypes and an accompanying genealogical chart, we can see this founding family of Amherst College as they were in the early era of photography. There are even daguerreotypes for the houses occupied by each of the married Snell couples.  The gift was from Susan Burr Snell, a great-great-granddaughter of Reverend Snell’s youngest son, William Ward Snell, who was born in April, 1821, as the first Amherst College building, South College, was being completed and in the year Amherst College opened its doors. What makes the gift even more extraordinary is the fact the daguerreotypes were taken by William Snell. In the two photographs below the genealogical chart halves are arranged against the corresponding daguerreotypes:


A founding family. Note that nos. 9 and 22 are the same daguerreotype (numbered 9); that there is no daguerreotype for one member of the family (Sarah) who died before photography was available; and that #19, the daguerreotype for Lewis Thorpe, is missing. There were also two sons, Samuel and Edward, who died early.


A camera obscura. Image from the “American Cyclopaedia” vol. 3 (George Ripley and Charles A. Dana).

So how did young William Snell (visible in daguerreotype number 15) come to be a photographer in an era where photography was still new? His biography has not been written – it exists in pieces here and there — and he has been entirely unknown to historians of photography.**

Several sources (listed below) have brief entries for William, including one or two that quote him. From these sources, we know that William spent time (maybe a year or so) working at Otis Tuft’s machine shop in Boston.  Since Boston had several practicing daguerreotypists who taught others, he most likely learned the art there. The influence of his older brother was probably involved as well – we know from a letter of April, 1829, that Strong had a camera obscura that William had access to.

Strong Snell to his family, April 1829: “One thing more, and I must stop for want of time. I should like much to have at Amherst the principal parts of my “Electrical Machine,” and my “Camera Obscura Box”…The Box (Camera Obscura) is one, and I should be glad of the whole.”


An as-yet unpublished “Rushford History of Churches, Schools, and ‘Movers and Shakers’” provides some important details and is the most specific source for the years of William’s travel as an itinerant daguerreotypist:

“At age 22 he learned the newly discovered art of photography, and being in delicate health [this is borne out by the letters in the Snell Family Papers], became an itinerant daguerreotypist.  In this capacity he traveled for three years [1843-46] visiting nearly all the states in the Union, but devoting the greater part of his time to Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama and Carolinas.”

In an e-mail about the gift of daguerreotypes, Susan Snell, William’s descendant, wrote that William “took photos of southern belles so that they could be shared around the neighborhood in hopes of finding a husband.”  In fact, Susan’s gift contains a daguerreotype of a Southern girl that William retained from among those he took for customers, along with an explanatory note.  The note, from an interview in 1900 between William and his son William Emerson Snell, records that the daguerreotypist was offered ten slaves by the girl’s mother if he would marry her.  “I relinquish my claim when you make yours,” the mother told him.  As an abolitionist, the note says, he was shocked at the offer.  Since he remembered it more than 50 years later, the occasion clearly made an impression.

“A Southern girl.” This daguerreotype shows a backdrop that would be very typical for an itinerant daguerreotypist. The tablecloth shown here appears in a daguerreotype of a family member (not included in this post), suggesting that Snell carried this particular tablecloth with him and that its pattern could be used to identify at least some of his daguerreotypes. Note that there are several different cloths in the daguerreotypes of family members shown above, some specific to a couple and probably from their own homes.

The Rushford History continues: “In 1846 he returned home with improved health taking charge of a garden near Boston for two years [a letter in the collection suggests that it was his sister Tirzah’s in Brookline], then entered into a machine shop at Lawrence, and became a machinist by profession, as he was by the strong bias a mechanical genius. William has been credited with the invention of the principle of the mechanical knotter or twine binder, which he sold to Appleby who made improvements and revolutionized American agriculture.”

A letter from Strong to his sister Tirzah Emerson in spring of 1847 confirms that William was back in Massachusetts but was still trying to determine what he would do for work – by this time he had decided he didn’t want to farm. Working as a machinist seems to have been a temporary solution for him, but he still felt unsettled.

At the same time, the Snell family was approaching the celebration in 1848 of Reverend Snell’s 50th anniversary as pastor of the North Brookfield Congregational Church. There were plans for family members to gather for the occasion, and it seems likely that many of the daguerreotypes above were taken during this period. However, evidence in Strong’s letters suggests that the Porters in Illinois couldn’t attend the celebrations, so the daguerreotypes of the Porters were probably taken toward the end of William’s earlier travels and after March, 1845, when the Porters moved to Hadley, Illinois. One or two others – such as the Rushford cabin — must date from even later since William only moved to Minnesota in 1855. During all the time that he was a daguerreotypist he seems to have used the same camera lens, one more suited to portraits than to landscapes.

In late 1850 William married Jane Fay of Vermont, and in the spring of 1855 he left for Minnesota, where he staked a claim to land in the new town of Rushford.  Jane followed him there a short time later. In Rushford, William found the preacher in himself, no doubt reaching back to what he learned from his father. The family remained in Minnesota until the late 1880s, when they moved to California. William Snell died there in 1901.

The southeastern area (Sioux territory) of Minnesota. William Snell settled in Rushford, located in the lower right section, a bit below the “t” in “Hokalt.” Map detail from “Chapin’s New Ornamental Map of the United States” (1853) from the David Rumsey Historical Map Collection.

Knowing that William Snell took the daguerreotypes above also demonstrated that he took several of the daguerreotypes that have long been at Amherst College as part of the Snell Family Papers.  These daguerreotypes were taken at the same sitting as the ones we received from Susan Snell, or very close in time. In each of the comparisons in the slideshow below, the additions from the new gift are on the left and the daguerreotypes that have been at Amherst for several decades are on the right. Notice the subtle differences between the daguerreotypes for each individual.  (Click on any image to see the slideshow.)

One of William’s daguerreotypes of Strong is also curious in that it shows him with equipment (as yet unidentified –if you know, please tell us) and two books, one of which supports a section of the unidentified equipment:

Strong’s books and equipment. Image flipped.

As a dedicated nosey parker (or an undiagnosed obsessive-compulsive), it was important to look at the books Snell has with him. Sometimes the books in daguerreotypes can be identified, sometimes they can’t. In this case a little Photoshop work and subsequent investigation in our library catalogue revealed not only the title of the work – they’re two volumes of a four-volume title — but the fact that we own the exact copies that Strong uses in the photograph. How often does that happen? Probably not that often:

Left to right, the volume in the daguerreotype, flipped; the same volume in the Archives and Special Collections, and interior with Snell’s signature.

When we look at all the Snell family daguerreotypes above (and there are more in the Archives than I’ve included here), we can imagine the scenes: William visiting family members; gathering and setting up the backdrop, the chair, the table, the cloth to cover the table and the books or flowers on it; William suggesting poses (“hold still!”), including where the hands should be, and the silence in the room for those long seconds a daguerreotype required. The Snells come to life in this way – you can feel them bustling around the room, moving the props around, or maybe running to change clothing between shots. You can sense the excitement they must’ve felt as they anticipated how the daguerreotypes would turn out. That these images lasted as a group this long – almost 170 years! – is amazing, and a testament to the strength of Snells.




* Amherst Graduates Quarterly, 1947, but originally from Strong Snell’s diary in the Snell Family Papers.

**A daguerreotypist named William Snell operated in Eastern Massachusetts from 1843-1865, but he is not William Ward Snell.


Sources that mention William Ward Snell:

History of North Brookfield, p. 755.

The History of the Descendants of Elder John Strong, of Northampton, Mass., p. 62.

Congregational Work of Minnesota, 1832-1920, p. 278.

The Home Missionary, vol. 55, Feb 1883, p. 303.  Snell is also mentioned in several other volumes of this publication.

Minutes of the General Congregational Association of Minnesota, referencing Snell’s “Reminiscences of a Thirty Years’ Pastorate in Minnesota,” [Sept.] 1884, p. 18.

The Christian Union, Vol. 30, No. 21, re “Reminiscences,” p. 502.

“A Tale of Two Valleys,” by Conrad G. Selvig, chapter 2.

Minutes of the Annual Meeting of the Southern California Congregational Conference, 1901, p. 52 (obituary).

“Rushford History of Churches, Schools, and ‘Movers and Shakers’,” unpublished volume; excerpt provided by the Rushford Historical Society.

“History of Fillmore County,” volume 1, 1912.





Studying the birds after a war

Our partnership with the Institute on World War II and the Human Experience has introduced me to some of the most interesting people of the Greatest Generation. I added a new one to my list this week as I loaded a set of photographs from Dr. Oliver L. Austin Jr. Students working for Dr. Annika A. Culver digitized this small set of images from the collection earlier this year for a museum in Japan. A student described them over this summer and now they are available in DigiNole (and later this year, will be available in DPLA).

Nihonbashi Takashimaya Department Store
Nihonbashi Takashimaya Department Store, 1946-1949 [original record]

Dr. Austin sounds like he was always up for an adventure. In 1931, he received Harvard University’s first Ph.D. Degree in Ornithology. As a seasoned sailor whose family owned a summer home on Cape Cod, Austin felt that he could be of service to the US Navy, and volunteered for sea duty in World War II, a somewhat unpopular posting prior to the Battle of Midway when the Japanese were still a formidable presence in the western Pacific Ocean. In 1942, when he was 39 years old, he went to naval headquarters in Boston and received his orders in late July. After three months of communications school, he was assigned to the USS Tryon, an evacuation transport, or armed hospital ship, headed for an embattled contingent of Marines in New Caledonia. Deck service was followed by duty in Admiral Bull Halsey’s communication pool and as communications officer on a gas tanker to forward bases. While in dock, he collected over 2,000 bird and bat specimens in “no man’s land” of the Pacific Theater’s roughest battles, including Tulagi and Bougainville, and even discovered two new bat species in Guadalcanal. After two years in the Navy and earning Lieutenant Commander rank, Austin was transferred to “military government school” at Princeton University to prepare him for service in the future occupations of Korea and Japan.

Dr. Oliver Austin
Dr. Oliver Austin, 1945-1952 [original record]

Dr. Austin headed the Wildlife Branch of the Fisheries Division in the Natural Resources Section (NRS) for Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers (SCAP) from September 4, 1946 to December 31, 1949. He was honored as one of only two members of the US Occupation of Japan who received a personal commendation for meritorious civilian service by General Douglas MacArthur. Austin implemented reforms of game laws and created wildlife sanctuaries as well as public hunting grounds to help conserve and manage Japan’s wildlife and natural resources. During his nearly four years in Japan, Austin left behind almost 1,000 well-preserved color photographic slides of postwar Japan under reconstruction. Highlights include American expatriate life, ordinary Japanese families in Tokyo and the countryside, and Japanese veterans purveying street entertainments. These sorts of images are included in the materials now available in DigiNole.

Later, in 1955 and 1956, Dr. Austin was invited to work as an Air Force scientific observer on the US Navy’s first Operation Deep Freeze, a preparatory expedition for the International Geophysical Year. In addition to his work on the expedition, Austin conducted research on Adelie and emperor penguins, skua, and seals, implementing a bird-banding project for his ornithological work.

More images from this collection are available through a project hosted by the WWII Institute and hopefully we’ll add more into DigiNole in the future.