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!
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!
“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 theseprocedures, thanks to thisgreat team of people:
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.
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.
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.
Of all the varied collections available in our CONTENTdm database, no collection, in my opinion, is as universally engaging, entertaining and historically valuable as the films from Moving Image Research Collections’ Fox Movietone News. At over 7,000 items (and growing), it is also the largest single collection our the Digital Collections repository. The majority of the collection consists of Movietone newsreel outtakes and unused content from the 1910s-1940s covering a vast array of topics.
The University of South Carolina’s Moving Image Research Collections is one of the biggest academic film archives in the country. It is part of the University Libraries’ special collections and features tens of thousands of films. This vast and ever-growing archive includes news film from local television stations, home movies, films from the United States Marine Corps, a collection of Chinese films and more. But the collection that started it all was the donation in 1980 of the Fox Movietone newsreel materials.
In the days before television, newsreels were shown in theaters before feature films. These short-subject films included stories on national and global politics, historic events, arts, fashion and entertaining human-interest stories. Newsreels covered topics as wide ranging as the meeting between Franklin Roosevelt and Winston Churchill in Casablanca, (partial video embedded; full video: https://digital.tcl.sc.edu/digital/collection/MVTN/id/6797/rec/28) the sculpting of Mount Rushmore (https://digital.tcl.sc.edu/digital/collection/MVTN/id/4491/rec/1), and the hairstyle fashions of 1928(https://digital.tcl.sc.edu/digital/collection/MVTN/id/2638/rec/10).
The migration of the Fox Movietone collection is part of a larger effort to make the Moving Image Research Collections’ holdings more discoverable and widely accessible online by transferring their collections to our CONTENTdm repository. I encourage you to explore the Fox Movietone News collection; try the search box below. You can watch some complete newsreels from World War II by clicking here. Also, check out the many other online collections available from MIRC by clicking here.
While intended to be humorous, the above picture isn’t entirely untrue. As an introvert now working from home, several aspects of my work method have changed. Since my job has taken an interesting turn, for this blog I thought I would update you all on what life is like away from the office and the new project I’ve undertaken!
I am very introverted and have always been a homebody, so I’ve handled the office to home transition well! While I miss my in-office co-workers, my mom and pets have proven to be wonderful temporary substitutes. As I get older, I continue to better understand the importance of family time, so I am thankfully not stuck at home, but am safe at home with those I love! I’ve enjoyed starting my mornings slow, setting my own work hours (in the afternoon as I am a night owl), and finding simple daily pleasures like enjoying the sunshine outside while working on metadata (oh, and not having to find parking in downtown Columbia). This time at home has challenged me to find creative ways to stay focused and energized but has also taught me a lot about my work ethic and allowed me to enjoy my job in a new way.
When we transitioned from office to home, I only had one folder scanned in advance from the M. Hayes Mizell collection. However, not having access to my digitization workstation and accompanying equipment in order to complete my regular work has freed up my schedule to allow for the completion of a full metadata assessment for the Mizell collection. As metadata work kept me quite busy in the office, reviewing content already uploaded to our CONTENTdm repository was not an immediate priority. Now that I have time, I am carefully reviewing every object that has been uploaded, looking through the metadata for any errors in order to correct those and better the online information. To help keep track of my progress, I have created a spreadsheet (pictured above) where I make note of what needs editing, what is correct or already edited, and what objects will need transcripts added. I have reviewed approximately 540 out of 583 object level items so far.
Once I complete the assessment I will start editing and uploading transcripts for approximately 470 objects. I usually do this in CONTENTdm, but since these objects are already uploaded, I will be using a program called OmniPage to create the text. The program scans the item, generates a transcript, and then selects the words it does not recognize for the editor to review. Once I am content with the full transcript, I simply have to copy and paste it into CONTENTdm. Unfortunately, this is a slower process, but as we are in the midst of a pandemic, I have all the time in the world.
Coronavirus hasn’t gotten my spirits down! Even with the changes to my work environment, I’m enjoying the metadata assessment and staying busy! Hopefully soon I’ll be writing these blog updates from my desk in the office at Digital Collections. But until then, stay safe, stay happy, and please enjoy some images of my ‘helpful’ new coworkers!
Well Quarantine Vibes ™ have some of us traveling only via the internet and we are finding some pretty cool things available. Some of my favorite sites to explore are projects like the National Park Foundation’s Virtual Tours and the National Museum of Natural History’s Find me in the Butterfly Pavilion. Those are maybe slightly more exciting than bird watching from my window (but having a window has been really nice since it has proven rare in my career history). I may have gotten very excited about spotting a tufted titmouse and have an ongoing issue with a cardinal that likes to sing loudly right outside my window at 4:30AM. (Can you tell I may be missing my co-workers?)
While looking for things to do, remember that Digital Collections has been adding materials online for the past 15 years and it is very cool stuff! It encompasses all sorts of topics, from postcards to civil rights, to geography, woman’s history, politics and war. There is definitely something for everyone. I especially enjoy illustrations and natural history, so I went and searched for an interesting collection relating to that. The Ethelind Pope Brown Collection of South Carolina Natural History is one of the earliest works, outside of Mark Catesby’s Natural History, that illustrated South Carolina’s Natural History. While the artist is unknown, it is believed to be John Laurens (you can read more about this on the collection’s page). Many of the same species can be seen in both collections and comparing their interpretations has been a fun outlet for me. I’ve included two very similar birds below, one by Mark Catesby and the other from the Ethelind Pope Brown Collection.
Whether it is online or outside, make sure you get a dose of nature and let us know what you find!
Contributed by Virginia Pierce and Laura Blair (2015). Edits and additions by Kate Boyd (2020).
[This blog was first written in 2015 for the Historical Newspapers. Since then we have added a number of Horry County newspapers where Myrtle Beach is located and we have scanned all of the South Carolina Postcards in our collections, which include many images of Myrtle Beach.]
The summer is in full swing and many of us are thinking about sticking our toes in the sand with the sound of crashing waves in the background. Hitting the beach is a common getaway during the summer months and many know that one of the most popular tourist destinations along the East Coast for beach-goers is right here in South Carolina: Myrtle Beach. Seeing several million visitors each year, Myrtle Beach sits at the heart of the Grand Strand and boasts an array of tourist attractions in addition to its sandy beaches.
In our lifetime it seems Myrtle Beach has always been the epitome of a beach destination; however, for all its popularity and success, Myrtle Beach has a relatively short history that dates back to right before the turn of the 20th century.
Situated in Horry County, the Myrtle Beach area remained uninhabited and unchanged for most of its early life. Due to its remote location, few Europeans attempted to colonize the area. It wasn’t until the 1880’s that the location began to see some settlement activity when the Burroughs & Collins Company out of Conway decided to buy land in the area for timber and set up a logging camp. Employees at the camp headed to the nearby beach on their days off. Additionally, the company built a railroad from Conway to the coastline in order to extract the timber. Once the railroad was in place and word spread of access to the coast, development in the area quickly picked up.
Initially the location didn’t have a formal name, and locals simply referred to the new train stop as New Town (perhaps in contrast to nearby Conway’s nickname of Old Town). A contest was eventually held for people to originate a name. The winning contestant drew inspiration from the popular plant in the area, the wax myrtle, and the name Myrtle Beach was born.
Aside from the business potential, the Burroughs & Collins Company realized the possible tourist potential in this new area. In 1901, they built the area’s first hotel, the Seaside Inn. A bathhouse and pavilion shortly followed. The company also began selling beachfront properties for twenty-five dollars. Throughout the summer months of the early 1900’s, the mention of Myrtle Beach in local newspapers quickly rose as families began traveling there for recreation and relaxation. The area soon became a popular destination spot, especially for those living in nearby South Carolina towns who could easily travel to the beach on a short train ride. As early as 1902, the Watchman and Southron (Sumter, S.C.) included Myrtle Beach (via Conway) under their “Week-End Rates From Sumter to Popular Summer Resorts.” Advertisements for hotels also begin to appear in papers around the state, enticing tourists to come and stay on the “Finest Strand on the Atlantic Seaboard.”
By the 1920’s, other developers saw the opportunity in the growing seaside town and began to further develop the area with hotels and golf courses, all aimed at vacationers. Myrtle Beach became a popular spot, seeing even conventions and conferences come to town such as ones for the South Carolina Press Association and the [South Carolina] State Dental Association.
An article in the Watchman and Southron (Sumter, S.C.) draws attention to the upcoming South Carolina Press Association convention in Myrtle Beach in 1922. Although F. G. Burroughs (of Burroughs and Collins Company) had been the first to see the business potential in the area, it had also been his dream to see a resort town on the East Coast halfway between Miami and New York. After his death in 1897, his sons carried out his plan, developing the area and turning Myrtle Beach into one of the most popular seaside destinations in the country.
I always love hearing library employees’ stories about how they came to work in libraries. The world of Library and Information Science attracts people from diverse backgrounds and with many different skills and interests. This is one of the things that I love the most about the field. My own path to working in digital collections has been exciting but complicated and, at times, challenging.
I first became interested in libraries during my junior year of college. Prior to that, I planned on going to veterinary school. I love animals, and I was attracted to the idea of helping people in need and alleviating animals’ pain. During my first year of college, I loaded up my schedule with biology and calculus classes, determined to pursue my dream, but it did not take long for me to discover that as I had grown older, I had developed a severe squeamishness towards needles and blood that would make it very difficult, if not impossible, for me to enter into any kind of medical profession. This realization was devastating, and for the next year and a half, I felt very lost and directionless. I took classes in just about every subject offered at my university, unsure of what career I wanted to pursue or even what I wanted to study. Then, in the fall of my junior year, a close friend told me that she would be attending graduate school for Library and Information Science the following year. Although I had never considered a career as a librarian and knew very little about the field, I was instantly intrigued. I reached out to the public library in my hometown to find out about summer volunteer opportunities, and a very kind librarian offered me an internship in the library’s archives. Even though I knew essentially nothing about archives, I jumped at the opportunity.
I spent the summer cataloging a collection of memorabilia donated to the library by a historical high school’s alumni association. For hours at a time, I sat in the cool archives poring over pictures, yearbooks, student newspaper publications, graduation pamphlets, war ration books, and letters, organizing the materials and writing item descriptions. I loved every minute of it. By the time August rolled around, I was determined to follow in my friend’s footsteps and enroll in a master’s program for library and information science in hopes of becoming a special collections librarian or archivist. I spent my senior year applying to graduate programs and trying to get as involved as I could in my university’s library. I joined a library ambassadors’ program and interned in the library in the spring, putting together a social media project for the library’s fore-edge painting collection.
The summer after I graduated, I interned at the Missouri State Archives, where I worked with microfilmed genealogy records, state fair correspondences from the 1920s, and 19th century state Supreme court documents. Each of these experiences solidified my interest in libraries and made me feel excited for the future.
I began graduate school at the University of South Carolina in the fall with the intention of getting involved in the Library. When I saw that the Library’s Digital Collections department was looking for a student scanner, I applied and was extremely excited to be offered the job. Working for Digital Collections has been the highlight of my first year of graduate school. I love getting to work with beautiful artwork, learn about the artist Giovanni Piranesi, and complete post-processing work such as photoshopping images. Like my other jobs in libraries, working in digital collections has reassured me that I am going into the right field, and it has also shown me that I have an interest in working with digital materials. I am grateful every day for the opportunity to work in digital collections, and I am excited to see what the future holds.
Catesby’s “Natural history of Carolina, Florida and the Bahama Isles” was created for an interested European audience. Many of the plants and animals of the New World were completely unknown to them as a three-month long trip didn’t make America very accessible. Catesby’s unique work was one of the first that pictured animals together with the plants that dominated their habitats. By virtue of this, there are quite a few well-loved and delicious foods alongside a few that you may not be familiar with.
Let’s start with a crowd favorite: Chocolate. By the time Catesby was creating these books (think early 1700s), chocolate had made its way into the hearts of Europeans. However, they still would not have known how this plant was cultivated. While Spanish and French colonies were producing chocolate, Catesby wanted to encourage cultivation of “this excellent tree” by the English (Catesby, 1731, p.6). While publishing his work on the Carolinas, Florida, and the Bahamas, he also collected accounts and made illustrations that he knew would be of interest. This reasoning is why we also have the addition of Mexican Vanilla. While Mexican vanilla has since been introduced to regions in the United States and Territories, Catesby likely wouldn’t have come across it in his day. In fact, Catesby says, “With this fruit the Spaniards perfume their chocolate . . . This perfume is so little agreeable to an English palate, that it is rarely made use of any more in our American Plantations than at home, and therefore not cultivated by us” (Catesby, 1731). Can you imagine? Another plant that Catesby includes is the Cashew. It is included both as a curiosity as well as a correction upon the work of previous naturalists which illustrated the growth of the plant incorrectly. The inclusion of all three of these plants work to elucidate European audiences with what they may be familiar with, but misunderstandings of their nature still existed.
Catesby wasn’t just recording plants with popularity in Europe, he also exposed his audience to the many plants the New World had to offer; some more familiar to us than others. First, there is the Sweet Potato. Catesby’s descriptions of all the potatoes in America speaks to their general greatness. We, in South Carolina, are also very familiar with Persimmons as a common fruiting tree. Whether they are eaten fresh or dried, they are quite delicious as Catesby would attest. A bit less familiar is Yaupon. It’s in the holly family and can be brewed into tea though it has a rather unfortunate scientific name, Ilex vomitoria. This name links back to Yaupon’s traditional medicinal use by Indigenous people to detoxify, but the plant itself does not cause vomiting. It’s more like a relative, Yerba Mate, in flavor (Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. 2016). Last, but not least, the Pawpaw or sometimes called a custard-apple. Discovering this in Catesby’s work was my first time learning about this fruit. However, if I go by Catesby’s word, it might not be that delicious. He describes, “All Parts of the Tree have a rank, if not a [fetid] Smell; nor is the Fruit relished but by very few” (Catesby, 1731, p.85). There are plenty of other native plants that may or may not be delicious, but these are just a few. To discover more, join me next time as I explore other Natural Histories from our collections! (aka browsing the library in pajamas? Fun!)
Catesby, M. (1731). The natural history of Carolina, Florida and the Bahama Islands: Containing the figures of birds, beasts, fishes, serpents, insects, and plants : particularly the forest-trees, shrubs, and other plants, not hitherto described, or very incorrectly figured by authors : together with their descriptions in English and French, to which, are added observations on the air, soil, and waters, with remarks upon agriculture, grain, pulse, roots, &c. : to the whole, is prefixed a new and correct map of the countries treated of. London: Printed at the expence of the author, and sold by W. Innys and R. Manby, at the West End of St. Paul’s, by Mr. Hauksbee, at the Royal Society House, and by the author, at Mr. Bacon’s in Hoxton.
As part of the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) grant we recently received, and alongside digitizing the South Carolina Council on Human Relations archive held at UofSC’s South Caroliniana Library, a new website for civil rights collections will be created to allow for easier searching and browsing of these collections. Much of the civil rights collections available online in Digital Collections, South Carolina Political Collections, Moving Image and Research Collections and elsewhere, encapsulate the state of South Carolina’s experience and memory of the Civil Rights Era.
To prepare for the website, a large assessment and evaluation of the current civil rights collections is being done. While searching through some of the content, some of the recorded early work of James Clyburn, current Majority Whip and Democratic Representative of South Carolina, was found. He has had a long political career in South Carolina, and a lot of his activity during the Civil Rights Era and after was recorded. Representative Clyburn has even been in the news lately for his appointment as Chairman of the bipartisan House committee created to manage spending on measures made to control the COVID-19 pandemic.
Video above: WIS-TV newsman Tom Howard introduces James Clyburn, assistant to Governor John West for human resources. Clyburn tries to dispel the “welfare Cadillac” myth, which purports that ineligible people misuse the food stamp program.
Documents and more on James Clyburn can be found here. More local TV newsreel outtakes from MIRC can be found here, as well as more collections that document South Carolina during the Civil Rights Era. Stay tuned for our CLIR digital collection updates!