Digitizing Audubon: Behind the scenes

By: Caraline Annichiarico

This Fall 2021, I completed a Natural History Digitization Internship in Digital Collections to digitize John James Audubon’s Birds of America (1827-1838) for the Irvin Department of Rare Book and Special Collections at the University of South Carolina. Under the direction of the project supervisor, Dr. Michael Weisenburg, I assisted the project manager, Kendall Hallberg to handle, scan, and compose metadata for 435 unbound plates in Robert Havell’s edition. For the sheer size of Audubon’s plates, the Zeutschel OS 1400 A0 overhead scanner was used to completely fit them on the scanning bed. As each plate is approximately 39 by 26 inches, two people were required to carry each plate to provide sufficient support and maintain proper preservation practices when handling these rare and special materials.

Kendall and I devised a system to carefully transfer the plates efficiently to and from the Zeutschel’s scanning bed. This photo offers a glimpse into our methodical scanning process.

Two women placing a large print on an overhead scanner

My interest in identifying birds and their calls made this internship particularly appealing to work so closely with Audubon’s rare collection. For instance, although I am familiar with the Whip-poor-will’s distinct call for which it is named, I have never seen this nocturnal bird in real life. Therefore, it was thrilling to view the Whip-poor-will for my first time in Audubon’s life-size drawing. Every one of the 435 plates are sensational, emotion-provoking, and dramatic; some containing scenery that depict nature at its best.

Whip-or-will flying with butterfly and leaves

During the metadata creation process, it was interesting to observe the nomenclature that Audubon used in his captions and follow the evolution to modern nomenclature used widely today. An integral resource for the metadata creation was referencing Susanne M. Low’s (1988) An Index and Guide to Audubon’s Birds of America, which provided scientific and common bird names as well as a description and brief history for each of Audubon’s plates.

To view Audubon’s magnum opus, navigate to University of South Carolina’s Digital Collections. I recommend zooming into the plate images, as the high-resolution quality is superb!

Welcoming our new Digital Collections Team!

Please welcome two new members of the Digital Collections Team: Georgia Ross White, Digital Collections Librarian, and Rhea Ray, Digital Projects Manager.

My name is Georgia Ross White and I am the new Digital Collections Librarian at University of South Carolina Libraries (Digital Collections Department). I completed my MLIS at the School of Library and Information Science here at UofSC in 2017 and have a background in healthcare management and digital rights and privacy documentation in oral histories and music. Earning an undergraduate degree in British Literary History with a concentration in Medieval and Early Modern Literature has ingrained me with a deep respect for document digitization and preservation, supplemented by trips to the Bodleian Library in Oxford, UK and Trinity College Library in Dublin, Ireland where I was privileged to see manuscripts of Piers Plowman and The Book of Kells. As a former ballet dancer, fine arts collections are a personal favorite, but as an amateur birder, our Catesby and Audubon collections here at UofSC are both aesthetically pleasing and scientifically informative. My goals for the department are to continue developing relationships with other Libraries faculty and staff and to facilitate new interests and voices in Digital Collections through student workers, interns, and grants to move our field forward.


Photo of Rhea M. Ray

My name is Rhea M. Ray and I am the new Digital Projects Manager here at the Digital Collections department of the Hollings Special Collections Library.  I received my Master of Science in Information with a focus in Information Organization in May 2019 and my Master of Science in Information Technology in April 2021, both from Florida State University.  I additionally have certifications in Information Architecture and Responsive Web Design, and obtained my Bachelor of Arts in History in December 2012 at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg.  As an information specialist, my ultimate goals are to ensure the preservation of human thought, creation, and history, to advocate for users’ needs, and to support every person’s right to intellectual freedom and exploration and to credible, accessible information.  I am excited to be a part of the University of South Carolina Libraries team and enjoying getting to know the Columbia area!

Let the research begin with the South Carolina Council on Human Relations! 

By Kendall Hallberg

Now that we are getting the South Carolina Council on Human Relations collection up online, the real fun part can begin! There is a reason we are working so hard to get this collection (and, as a department, so many others) up online. That is so that researchers and users can explore, learn, and discover the stories behind these documents. You can read Laura’s post on the materials we’ve gotten up so far.

Digital Collections, as a team, works tirelessly to digitize so many materials and collections. The CLIR team (which you can read about here) has been putting in the effort to upload a lot of material from the records of the South Carolina Council on Human Relations. We are not doing all this work just for our own gratification (though, personally, I get a lot of that). We work so hard so that you, researchers, and users can browse and study the stories that these documents tell.

While creating the metadata, I tend to see some interesting stuff. The South Carolina Council on Human Relations worked in a lot of interesting fields within human relations. It’s amazing to see all the other organizations they collaborated with. But I also get glimpses of some other interesting trends. Since I am working through their general records in the 1950s, there are some hints to research topics one could take much further. Just some of the topics could be how civil rights work was impacted by communism and by women’s clubs and societies, how civil rights organizations work with religious affiliates, and so much more. Here are some examples:

Women’s Society example:  

Typed correspondence
Letter to J. M. Dabbs from Eunice Ford Stackhouse of the South Carolina Federation of Women’s Clubs endorsing Alice Spearman for Executive Director, December 3, 1952











Communism example, “Loyalty Statement”:

Typed correspondence
Letter to Richard J. Foster from George S. Mitchell concerning loyalty statement with handwritten notes for drafting a form for Alice N. Spearman and Beryl M. Oglesby, November 24, 1954





Christian Group example: 

Typed correspondence
Letter to Alice N. Spearman from Carl R. Pritchett concerning the Christian Council on Human Relations in Anderson and its relationship with the Southern Regional Council, March 17, 1955.

Catesby is Now Online!

By Kendall Hallberg

After months of hard work, two volumes of Mark Catesby’s Natural History of Carolina, Florida, and the Bahama Islands and the Herbert Fitzgerald’s collection of Catesby’s prints have now been uploaded to our Digital Collections repository! There’s still plenty left to do as the University Libraries are home to 5 unique, hand-painted copies of the Natural History as well as two copies of the Hortus Europae Americanus. I will still be working to create more, and better, metadata for these additional books and prints.

Uncolored illustration of bird, a ghost pipe plant, and a toad stool, created in 1731 by Mark Catesby.
Catesby’s illustration, Plate 36, “Snow-bird, Broom-rape, and Toad-stool” from Volume I, 1731.
Photograph of a white plant native to the Carolinas colloquially called an Indian Pipe or Ghost Pipe. Green foliage in background. Photo taken by Kendall Hallberg in 2021.
Photo of Ghost Pipe, or One-Flower Indian-Pipe taken at Blood Mountain, by Kendall Hallberg, 2021.













This project and all the metadata that goes along with it would not have been possible without the assistance of the wonderful people with the Mark Catesby Centre. As I am not a naturalist, I have relied on their expertise to make this digital collection as usable as it is wonderful. I know that anyone who looks at these works will be able to learn something new about Mark Catesby and the natural world around us.


Illustration of a Polyphemus moth that is light brown with circular markings on its two back wings, created in 1731 by Mark Catesby.
Catesby’s illustration of a Polyphemus Moth in Plate 91 in Volume II, 1731.
Light brown moth with circular markings on its wings.
Photo of a Polyphemus Moth sitting in a potted plant taken in Columbia, SC, by Kendall Hallberg, 2021.












I have so enjoyed working on this project and learned a lot about the region I live in! While out exploring around the Southeast, I have stumbled upon some of the same things Catesby saw almost 300 years ago. Well, we all do every day, because squirrels… But some of my discoveries have been exciting for me and I spotted them either miles into the woods or on my patio.

Explore the collection! And as you explore your neighborhood, South Carolina, and the Southeast, see what you can find from Catesby’s Natural History!


Illustration of a mountain laurel twig with pale pink flowers and green leaves, created in 1731 by Mark Catesby.
Catesby’s illustration of Mountain Laurel, Plate 98 in Volume II, 1731.
Mountain laurel, green bush with white flowers.
Photo of Mountain Laurel taken at Blood Mountain in Georgia, by Kendall Hallberg, 2021.









Civil Rights work Before Civil Rights Era: A search guide to the SCCHR Collection

Screenshot of SC division of SRC letterhead.
Screenshot of SC division of SRC letterhead.





By Laura Stillwagon

389 pages of the civil rights collection Records of South Carolina Council on Human Relations (SCCHR) are now accessible and searchable here on Digital Collections. The SCCHR was a local organization devoted to promoting civil rights and bettering the lives of African Americans in South Carolina and the rest of the South. In these select administrative papers, dated before the Civil Rights Movement during Post-War America, the SCCHR is yet to be formed, and members are still part of the larger Southern Regional Council (SRC) as a state division. As the South Carolina Division of the SRC, the organization’s goals were to foster civil rights by identifying the needs of the underrepresented and marginalized groups in South Carolina and find ways to address these needs through spreading awareness, programs, and other means (South Carolina, 2021). These extensive documents provide insight into how the organization grew and changed and the organization’s inner workings of organizing committees, promoting and performing outreach, and solidifying the foundational ideas what would eventually become the SCCHR.

These 389 pages amass only 8 folders of this collection, which consists of 1,700 folders and spans 1934-1976, so there is certainly more to come. At this time, there is no landing page for the collection, so this link (same as the link above) will take you to a results page with the searchable documents. Another way to search for this collection is to type in the organization name into the search bar in the Digital Collections homepage. To search within the collection, you can enter your search terms into the search bar above the list of items. You can also search for specific items by selecting linked terms within each item record.

Screenshot of search bar to search within a record in the SCCHR collection.
Screenshot of search bar to search within a record in the SCCHR collection.

The digitization work for this collection, funded by Council on Library and Information resources (CLIR) grant for Digitizing Hidden Collections, is rigorous, requiring large scanners and unique metadata. You can read more about the digitization process in the following blog posts made by two digital assistants working on this project.



South Carolina Council on Human Relations Records, South Caroliniana Library, University of South Carolina. http://archives.library.sc.edu:8081//repositories/3/resources/56 Accessed June 11, 2021.

Political Campaign Memorabilia Collection

By Ann Abney

YouTube and Facebook ads. Texting supporters to remind them of their polling location. Presidential campaigns have changed significantly over the years, but catchy slogans and memorable logos have always been part of campaigning.  A selection of campaign buttons makes up a new digital collection from South Carolina Political Collections (SCPC) in conjunction with the exhibit “In the Arena: Presidential Campaigns and Conventions” showcasing presidential campaign materials from 1940 to 1984.

SCPC’s holdings include a large number of objects such as buttons, pins, pens, medals and other “ephemera” relating to politics. The digital collection draws on these materials. Some of the materials are duplicated from our collections, like a Hollings for President bumper sticker. Some of the material has been collected or donated by SCPC staff or members of the public. This is especially true of our more recent campaign buttons.

While our collection of presidential ephemera is greatest for the past few election cycles, SCPC chose to digitize those from 1940 to 1984 to highlight some of the older and rarer materials we have. For example, while Barack Obama or George W. Bush buttons might still be common these days, few people can say they have seen a Wendell Willkie button or a guidebook to the 1961 Inauguration.

What’s the first campaign you remember? For me, it was the Bush-Gore campaign – I was in second grade; for my dad it was the 1960 Kennedy-Nixon campaign; and for my grandfather it was probably the 1940 Roosevelt-Willkie campaign. Check out the digital collection and let us know which is your favorite piece of campaign memorabilia!

Get to know a new side of the Zeutschel

By Kendall Hallberg

Scanner software view
Scanner software view









One of Digital Collections’ state-of-the-art scanners, that you may remember, is the planetary scanner known as the Zeutschel (or more affectionately “the Z”). We’ve used it to scan all sorts of oversized materials like the Piranesi Volumes and even a quilt. Now, we’re using it to scan a whole bunch all at once.

With the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) Digitizing Hidden Collections Grant, Digital Collections is working with the South Caroliniana Library to digitize the South Carolina Council on Human Relations Papers. This project stretches about 35 linear feet which is about the same number of boxes. The Z makes it possible for use to scan through this massive project 8 folders at a time. You can see in the diagram how we fit all 8 folders onto the scanner. To explain how this works, the program (Omnipage) we use with the scanner allows us to split the bed into 8 virtual beds attached to one scan head that creates and sorts the files separately.

Please click on ‘download this file’ in the above media player to play the video.

The work that the program does significantly decreases the work that we manually do with the smaller flatbed scanners at our desks. Streamlined file naming, almost no image post-processing – like straightening and cropping, and perfectly sorted, high-quality TIFFS (the archival best practice for preservation) and JPEGS (the ones we use for our repository), all done automatically. And it all happens relatively quickly! Though not as quickly as the time-lapse presents it – I am not super-human, unfortunately.

 Letter to J. M. Dabs from George S. Mitchell concerning sending the Southern Regional Council’s statement to South Carolina superintendents, 15 December 1950. The Letter is written on Southern Regional Council letterhead.
Letter to J. M. Dabs from George S. Mitchell concerning sending the Southern Regional Council’s statement to South Carolina superintendents, 15 December 1950. The Letter is written on Southern Regional Council letterhead.
Unaddressed Letter from J. M. Dabbs concerning an article in the New South, April 12, 1951. The letter is written on South Carolina Division letterhead for the Southern Regional Council.
Unaddressed Letter from J. M. Dabbs concerning an article in the New South, April 12, 1951. The letter is written on South Carolina Division letterhead for the Southern Regional Council.
Letter format requesting membership dues from Alice N. Spearman written on South Carolina Council on Human Relations letterhead.
Letter format requesting membership dues from Alice N. Spearman written on South Carolina Council on Human Relations letterhead.

Meet our Spring Virtual Intern, Anthony Sax

My name is Anthony Sax and I spent the spring 2021 semester interning with the Digital Collections Department of the University of South Carolina Libraries. I am an MLIS student at the U of SC about half way through my graduate program. Working with digital collections and archival work is a relatively new experience for me. I got my undergraduate degree from Iowa State University in Supply Chain Management. I then spent a few years working in marketing and digital technology positions before deciding that I wanted to shift my career path and go back to school for my MLIS.

Map of Giuseppe Garibaldi's March to Roma [Rome] in 1848-1849
Giuseppe Garibaldi’s March to Roma [Rome] in 1848-1849
               My internship in Digital Collections also had a relatively unique structure. My internship was to work on creating metadata for the Giuseppe Garibaldi Collection. The work had already been started by a previous intern so my job was to complete the second half of the collection. In addition I live in Iowa so I did the work and coordinated with my supervisor remotely. The ongoing pandemic has unfortunately given everybody a chance to practice working remotely so the experience of working on this internship went pretty smoothly and I was very grateful to get a chance to work on a project like this despite not living in South Carolina.

The Giuseppe Garibaldi Collection is a very interesting collection of documents concerning Giuseppe Garibaldi an Italian general and patriot who lived in the 19th century. Garibaldi was a widely renowned general who played a key role in the Italian unification and the beginnings of the subsequent Kingdom of Italy. The documents in the collection consisted of a variety of types includes letters, photographs, drawings, postcards, and maps. The letters comprised the first half of the collection and the metadata for them had been completed before I started on the project. My half of the collection included photographs, drawings, postcards, and maps. The vast majority of the documents in the collection that had writing on them were not in English so I had to translate them so that I could get an understanding of what the document was. In addition to getting some great experience digging through a collection, understanding the materials, and creating metadata for them I also got to tackling running the created metadata through OpenRefine and CONTENTdm in order to upload the material into the digital collections system.

Going through the collection I found a number of items that I thought were very interesting. The ones that stood out to me the most however were the collection of maps in the collection that traced the movements that Garibaldi made in various military and exploratory engagements.

Map of Giuseppe Garibaldi's Voyages by Sea by 1824 to 1833
Giuseppe Garibaldi’s Voyages by Sea by 1824 to 1833

We’re Back!

March 13, 2020 we all went home to work remotely, due to COVID-19. As of April 5, 2021 we’re all back on campus. Some of us never stopped working from home, and several of us returned to part-time in-office operations. Throughout the difficult changes and adaptations, no Digital Collections services were interrupted. While this has been difficult on our staff, we have persevered and we’re beginning to return to more regular operations.

This past Tuesday we gave a tour to University of South Carolina president Bob Caslen. We’re proud of our work here in Digital Collections; digitizing primary sources for access and education is the foundation of all we do. We got to share this enthusiasm with Caslen and we’re looking forward to a better, safer year in 2021. Stay well!

Two Years Down, One Year to Go

As we enter into the 3rd year of the Historic Southern Naturalists Project, Josh Schutzenhofer (UofSC Digital Collections) and Linda Smith (McKissick Museum, UofSC) take a look at some of the different specimens and artifacts that have been digitized and catalogued during this one project.

The Historic Southern Naturalists project encompasses many institutions across campus and even the state. The collections are as varied as the contributors and working in the UofSC Digital Collections I am one of the first to see the project contributions as they come together. How exciting?!

We are now entering our final year of this multi-year project and I can tell you…I have seen some pretty interesting items and so, I thought I would share a few of the varied objects I have come across over the last two years…

Where do we start on this journey? Let’s look at the science first…plants, shells, minerals…there are some specimens that are outrageously beautiful and some that are dull and honestly ugly. (shhhh! We won’t identify the ugly ones!)

Take a look at these plant specimens:

Check out this beauty of a mineral:

And the shells…

How about an early preview of a meteorite which hasn’t been uploaded yet?

While sharing the scientific images and data associated with them are extremely interesting and important work, connecting these objects with correspondence, manuscripts, post cards, etc…is also important.

Correspondence like this one:


“My dear sir

I have not been unmindful of you since I came up to Aiken, & have several times been on the point of writing, but my time has been almost wholy engulfed in preparing my 3rd Fasc[icle].

With respect to the Phaenograms in your list of desiderata, I fear I can do but little towards supplying your wants. I have not collected, but very sparingly for several years, in this department _ and a large majority of those you indicate, I know I have not. Neither of the Kalmias, nor Saxifraga erosa, mentioned in your last, have I got. Some of the ferns I have in my herbarium, but no duplicates. The Listeras and Cranichis, I have collected, but of this last I furnished you whilst in St. Johns.

My duplicates are all packed away in a box, which it would take me several days to over-haul and examine. and if the search for them would be rewarded with success, I would cheerfully undertake the task to oblige you, but knowing there are not more than two or three things which could be found_ I must postpone it until you call for them in propria persona – I wish I had a stronger inducement to offer.

I might do something for you among the Crypts. if I knew your wants in their orders.”

Manuscripts like this one:

Finally, historically speaking, documenting the objects associated with the naturalists gives another perspective to these historical naturalists.

Like Thomas Cooper’s watch fob given to him by Thomas Jefferson or these scientific slides.

Above: Four glass slides stored in a specially designed plastic storage container.

Below: A slide of wood lily (Lilium philadelphicum) during cell division by meiosis in the archesporial stage. Prepared by A. C. Moore when he was at the University of Chicago (as evidenced by the labels on the slides). This slide documents the first known reference to the term ‘meiosis’ in history!!

Wow! Such a varied assortment of institutions, objects, and information is collected in this one project. But stay tuned…we have one more year of exciting images to share!

[Crossposted from original blog: https://miningmckissick.wordpress.com/2020/10/21/two-years-down-one-year-to-go/]

People Behind the Progress in Digital Preservation

By Kate Boyd

World Digital Preservation Day logo“Digital Preservation Is People” – Trevor Owens, The Theory and Craft of Digital Preservation, 2018

UofSC Libraries has made much progress from last year’s blog post. A few areas of celebration stand out on World Digital Preservation Day.  First, the Digital Preservation Team has a final draft of the Libraries’ new Digital Preservation Framework to preserve selected digital, born digital, and digital-only materials for future generations. The team came together in summer 2019 for a brainstorming meeting and from there, a smaller group began work on policies and procedures for the Framework. With guidance and support from administration, we have begun to act on these procedures, thanks to this great team of people:

Beth Bilderback, Kate Boyd, Matt Darby, Ana Dubnjakovic, Lance Dupre, Amie Freeman, Heather Heckman, Mēgan Oliver, Bill Sudduth, Alex Trim, Dorothy Walker, Michael Weisenburg, Greg Wilsbacher, Stacy Winchester, Jennifer Wochner

Second is the work that has gone into setting up Archivematica and AWS services by Lance Dupre, Digital Repository Librarian, and Matt Darby, Systems Administrator. They set up Archivematica, connected it to AWS, and trained us to move digital collections to Deep Archive. Our Research Data Librarian, Stacy Winchester, is actively moving 15 years’ worth of digital collections, creating metadata, processing, and moving the files. Kate Boyd is beginning this method with about four years of digitized microfilmed newspapers.

Finally, the digital preservation work that Moving Image Research Collections (MIRC) staff do to preserve the unique and difficult to manage film collections must also be noted. Unlike photographs and manuscripts, film needs to be digitized to remain accessible at all. There is currently not a solid set of digital preservation standards for motion picture film. Nevertheless, Greg Wilsbacher, curator for the United States Marine Corps Film Repository and Amy Meaney, curator for local TV news, including WIS, care about preserving these materials and are constantly learning and finding new ways to ensure their viability for years to come. Even though the digital access files they create for films do not retain enough resolution to effectively ‘preserve’ the film, Greg and Amy labor day-in and day-out to move these large access files into the Deep Archive.

Image 1 Land Mine Warfare School at Camp Faulkner, Vietnam , United States Marine Corps Film Repository, University of South Carolina Libraries
Land Mine Warfare School at Camp Faulkner, Vietnam , United States Marine Corps Film Repository, University of South Carolina Libraries

Greg and Matt worked together to develop a set of scripts for automatically processing up to 20 Marine Corp films at a time. As films are manually digitized during the day, the scripts transcode or create a streaming access copy and a pro-res mezzanine copy while also checking for errors and uploading to Deep Archive at night. Although this sounds like backup, they are adding fixity checks and other details along the way as well. The process is not perfect because the file created is more for access than preservation but saving that access file still allows for future researchers to learn from the content. Greg can bag, check, and push to the cloud 40 to 50 films a week using these automated protocols. 400 terabytes or over 3,000 films of Marine Corps data have been transferred to AWS.

In 2018, Amy won a CLIR Recordings at Risk grant to digitize and preserve 16mm film outtakes from WIS-TV, shot between 1966 and the early 1970s. 208 rolls totaling approximately 169,000 feet of film were transferred. This selection was prioritized because the films from this period often contain magnetic soundtracks, many of them beginning to deteriorate.   Today, while the digitized files are safely deposited in Deep Archive, she continues to make these materials available online for researchers, manually adding them to the repository.

Awareness promos--outtakes. (WIS-TV Awareness Story 237.) WIS-TV: Awareness. Moving Image Research Collections. University of South Carolina
Awareness promos–outtakes. (WIS-TV Awareness Story 237.) WIS-TV: Awareness. Moving Image Research Collections. University of South Carolina

In writing the Digital Preservation Framework, we initially focused on digital collections and born digital materials. However, Heather Heckman, our AD for Technology, and former Head of MIRC, pointed out that analog materials are gradually degrading; in some cases, therefore the scanned item becomes the only copy of the content. This is a particular problem for magnetic media, including the soundtracks on the WIS film.  As a result, we created another category, digital-only, to signify those materials where there was analog, but now there is only digital. People like Greg and Amy are managing to move the file to digital just in time. It may not be perfect, but in the spirit of the POWRR group, it is what we can do now.

Let us take this day to celebrate the people responsible for keeping vast amounts of unique and varied materials accessible for researchers in the future.