One of the new projects in development in Digital Collections involves a collection of manuscripts and photographs from the South Carolina Council on Human Relations (SCCHR), held by the South Caroliniana Library. The project is made possible by the Council on Library and Information Resources’
The collection spans five decades, beginning in 1934 before the Civil Rights Era (1955-1969), and it amasses 1,700 folders and 32 boxes. Included in the papers are correspondence, financial records, meeting minutes, open letters, radio scripts, reports, and more all concerning the Council’s involvement in civil rights activities. These papers will not only reveal hidden figures ushering in progress, but also broaden the definition of civil rights.
Since we are under an ordinance to work remotely, I can only share with you a few examples of the content found in this collection. Pictured below are some of the first correspondence and documents kept.
As we all get used to this “new normal” of working-from-home: trying to find a balance between working remotely, juggling ever-present domestic demands…or just trying to keep the cat from walking across the keyboard while we respond to emails. Many parents are finding yet another hat they are forced to wear, that of teacher. In the midst of everything else going on this additional demand can be especially challenging.
We here at UofSC’s Digital Collections in conjunction with the South Carolina Digital Library (SCDL) are here to help. We can offer some additional resources that will help keep your home-bound student engaged — at least long enough for you to get through that next Zoom meeting! Digital Collections’ website and the SCDL’s website offer thousands of primary source materials that compliment many K-12 lesson plans. These primary sources, like photographs, newspaper articles, letters, audio clips, moving images all have a unique way of bringing course content to life. These resources offer a welcome supplement to traditional textbooks.
In fact, it is possible that there is so much content in these collections across the state that it might be daunting to find just the right materials. To make the search easier, the University of South Carolina, in collaboration with professional educators, created the S.C. Digital Academy. This website offers easy to find, standards-based lesson plans that link directly to digitized materials on the web that will support many K-12 lessons.
The S.C. Digital Academy is easily searchable by grade level and Standards-Based topics. The Document Based Questions were originally designed for professional educators, but for newly ordained Parent/Teachers, they provide direct access to useful materials. We hope you will find these resources helpful and that your “students” will find them engaging and even entertaining.
The South Carolina Postcards Collection features historic postcards from across the state of South Carolina. From Battery Park in Charleston to Table Rock Mountain in Greenville, this collection provides the perfect opportunity to get a unique and colorful glimpse of South Carolina in the 1900s. With postcards ranging from 1865 to 2016 this collection captures what the travel and tourism industry was like in the state while also giving us picturesque views of historic South Carolina. Currently housed in the South Caroliniana Library, it has quickly become one of our most popular collections.
The South Carolina Postcards collection includes all 46 South Carolina counties, 6,144 postcards, and nearly four years’ worth of work completed by three students and staff from the Digital Collections (Digi) office. The project was started in May of 2016 by Library Science graduate student, Mir Pavin. During her time in Digi, Mir completed 15 counties. After she graduated the project was shelved for nearly a year before Digi Project Assistant, Matthew Haney, began working on it. Matthew completed 13 counties. After Matthew left, the project was again shelved, thankfully just for six months this time, before it was picked up again by Josh Schutzenhofer. It was Josh who finally finished this project.
Josh and the Postcards
I am Joshua Schutzenhofer, a Library and Information Science graduate student here at USC. I have been working in digital collections for a little over a year. I started working on the South Carolina Postcards Collection in the Spring of 2019 and completed the project in early February of this year. During my time working on this project, I scanned postcards for 17 counties, including the largest county Charleston, which has over 1,000 postcards. For those who don’t know, the collection includes postcards featuring images of historical sites, churches, graves, schools, hotels, tourist attractions, bridges, monuments, train stations and depots, factories, highways, paintings, historical figures, everyday people, and advertisements.
One of my favorite postcards features a monument to the defenders of Fort Moultrie in a park in Charleston, S. C. I have always had an interest in history and the battle at Fort Moultrie was a significant event in the American Revolution, as well as the inspiration for the South Carolina Flag and the nickname “The Palmetto State.” (Did you know, we have William Moultrie’s papers? He was the person for whom the fort was named, and his papers are digitized and published online in our American Revolution in South Carolina Collection.)
Another interesting postcard I found was of the A. C. L. Passenger Station in Sumter, S. C. Trains were a key reason that several towns in South Carolina were built. I really enjoyed all the time that I spent working on this collection, seeing South Carolina throughout history in black and white, and technicolor.
The South Carolina Postcards Collection started in May of 2016 and three years and ten months later it was completed. Nearly four years after it was started digital collections has made the entire collection available online. And while it might have taken awhile to complete, it certainly proved to be an interesting and colorful collection to work with.
“She may be gone, but she will live on in our hearts” – Laura Stillwagon
Allison Rogers is not dead, but she has left Digital Collections (Digi) to find a position more in line with her field of Computer Science in the corporate world. So, she really has in a way moved on, just professionally speaking. While her brief immersion into digitization and archiving seems a bit left field, her time at Digi provided an opportunity to explore work that marries information and computer science with the humanities. Even though on the application side, she learned little within the realm of STEM at Digital Collections, she did learn about how truly professional women conduct themselves in positions of leadership.
Her introduction to the job and the position was through a friend. She thought metadata sounded interesting, being data about data, something she is familiar with. When she started here, she worked on scanning letters, invoices and manuscripts for a collection on the American Revolution. She then moved on to newspapers where she spent most of her time. In 2019, she digitized 27,293 pages of newspapers put on microfilm. Now with Capgemini, she is an IT consultant.
Working at Digi gave her the opportunity to see her field from another perspective, but more than that she observed the characteristics and actions of women in professional positions of leadership. Even though Digi doesn’t involve the field of STEM, she believes that the women that work in the office showed her characteristics of women with integrity, leadership and skill, unencumbered by needless competition and the desire to impress. Only women run the office of Digi and they are 100% themselves, seeking to push digitization and the library forward with their skills and improve the professionalism of the part-time student workers and other staff who work for them.
Allison said that she wants to work in the large field of Library and Information Science in the future, but she may have said this just appease those who are in archiving, librarianship and digital humanities.
If you are at home, like most of us these COVID-19 days, and looking for something to do, try a search in the South Carolina Historical Newspapers (SCHN) to see how past generations coped with similar situations. Better yet, focus the search on your city or county and you should find a few articles that might put some of what we are going through into perspective and help us realize that we will get through this. The SCHN repository contains small South Carolina newspapers dating from about 1815 to around the 1950s. I searched for “pandemic” and “influenza” and ordered them by date, starting in 1911.
At the beginning there was not much. A 1907 article from The Ledger (Gaffney City, S.C.), discusses the history of pandemics and notes the Justinian Pandemic in the 6th century and the Black Death in the fourteenth century.
Fast forward to the twentieth century and there is an article in The Horry Herald (Conway, S.C.) from 1911 talking about the Asiatic Cholera which sounded scary and was also rampant in Italy and knocking on New York City’s door. Federal and State agencies worked hard to ensure that it did not spread.
As 1918 arrives, there are a lot more hits. The Spanish Influenza was widespread and after retreating during the summer, returned hard in October. The Library of Congress’s Research Guide can help you find articles on this topic from papers across the country, but many of the articles in the SCHN are only available through our local repository. Some articles are duplicated in different papers and it begins to sound eerily like the present day. For instance, there were rules to not congregate. There were city ordinances to wear masks. Colleges, schools, theaters, and restaurants closed. Sundays were extremely quiet with no one attending church. Newspaper delivery relied on substitutes who did not know the routes; an issue we don’t have now that everything is online. There were many articles from health organizations explaining what is going on and what to do. The Bamberg Herald on October 17, 1918 published an article, which shows up in a few papers, that gives “Uncle Sam’s Advices” stating that coughing and sneezing spreads the disease from person to person.
By 1920 the local SC newspapers are turning to other news, but the Abbeville News and Banner published a report from a doctor about Pellagra, a vitamin deficiency, and how it was mostly stamped out in South Carolina. The report made sure to note that the after-affects are much worse than the flu.
In the early 2000’s, if you search through the USC student newspaper, The Gamecock, you find about 20 relevant results on articles about the SARS epidemic, or Bird Flu, that started in China. There is a small article in 2003 about travel bans because of the epidemic. In 2005 and 2006, two articles really touch on some of the similarities that we are living through now. The
I find comfort in firsthand accounts of history, like newspaper articles, for they
show that people have dealt with similar issues before, and the stories they tell in the end are quite fascinating. What stories will we be telling? How will life change once this is over? One thing they didn’t have helping them get through the Spanish Influenza is the Internet. We are certainly very fortunate to have that to keep us somewhat sane and connected to not only our friends and family, but our neighbors around the world.
What do the South of the Border’s Sombrero Tower and the massive antenna array that used to sit atop the World Trade Center in NYC, have in common? Weird question, yes…but in fact they were both constructed by Kline Iron & Steel Company right here in Columbia, South Carolina. These are just two of the very diverse projects created by Kline over it’s 80 year history.
Kline Iron & Steel Company (1923-2003) earned a reputation for supplying high quality steel products as well as being a company that fostered great loyalty and respect between employees and owners. Many who worked at Kline likened it to being part of a family, which contributed to its unusually low turn-over rate of employees. The fascinating story of the development of this long-time, iconic Columbia company is brought to life through the Kline Iron & Steel Company History and Recollections featuring over thirty oral history interviews compiled by UofSC’s Department of Oral History.
This collection is just one part of an exciting project we have been working on here at Digital Collections. We have been migrating various oral history collections into our Cdigital collections repository (hosted by OCLC’s CONTENTdm) from the Department of Oral History. They have a robust offering of oral histories that provide first-hand accounts and insights on life in South Carolina. Most of these interviews are available as both audio recordings and interview transcripts. Additionally, the Department of Oral History has created wonderfully rich online exhibits for many of these collections that feature photographs, print materials, manuscripts, timelines and more. Of course, we link directly to those exhibits from our landing pages.
By adding these oral histories to our digital collections repository they become discoverable along with the many other digital collections that are represented there. So, a user’s search will potentially return photographs, print materials, maps, and manuscripts along with oral histories all from a single database. Also, these collections will eventually be harvested into the South Carolina Digital Library and will be discoverable statewide along with items originating at over 60 institutions across South Carolina.
We are excited to be making the Kline Iron & Steel Company oral histories and the many other oral history collections more broadly available. We believe patrons will find them interesting and rich resources for South Carolina History. Go to the Dept. of Oral History to check out the many collections they already have available online and keep an eye on Digital Collections’ database as we continue to add those collections as well.
Although the project regularly continues to expand as the Center for Digital Humanities discovers new, exciting possibilities for showcasing the wonders within Piranesi’s works, the current goal is to create an interactive, virtual exhibit of 29 volumes of Italian artist Giovanni Piranesi’s etchings. Piranesi was an eighteenth-century artist famous for his etchings of Rome and his fictitious prisons (or Carceri d’invenzione). His work is breathtakingly beautiful and astonishingly detailed. Although I had little exposure to visual art before I started working in Digital Collections, I have since become a huge fan of Piranesi’s work. My favorite part of my job is opening a new volume and exploring the etchings inside for the first time as I scan each of the pages. You never know what you’ll find!
My work consists of scanning the etchings volume by volume to create TIFF copies of the images. I then convert these files to JPEGs and subsequently use Photoshop to create cropped copies of the images for the Center for Digital Humanities to use. The biggest surprise I have encountered so far is how difficult and tedious the scanning process can be. The volumes I work with are bound so that there are big gaps between pages, and the heavy ink can cause the etchings to warp. My job is to get as perfect of a scan as possible. Usually this means invoking techniques such as positioning foam or fabric underneath the pages, using weights to prop up the spine, pulling pages tight with a ruler, and adjusting the pressure of the scanning beds against the book, all while exercising great caution not to damage the books or pages themselves.
Occasionally, when I encounter very difficult pages, I have to take over ten scans to get a usable image. It is tedious and highly detailed work, and it took me several weeks to become fully comfortable scanning independently. Nevertheless, I love my job, and I am very excited to get to be a part of the Piranesi project. I hope that those who view the Piranesi exhibit after its completion find his work as captivating and interesting as I do. To learn more about the project click here. To view our work to date, visit the Piranesi project website.
Mark Catesby’s 1731 book “Natural History of Carolina, Florida and the Bahamas” is the first published work to document the natural history of the southern and tropical regions. The illustrations and accompanying text detail life in these regions like no other naturalist had done before. You can see his influence in the work of others like James John Audubon. To learn more about these works and about Mark Catesby, you can check out the Catesby Centre. As the graduate student working on this project, I am scanning and working on the metadata for these volumes and prints.
Catesby’s Natural History spans two huge volumes. They are about 350 pages each. What makes them truly large is that they are printed on “Elephant Folios”, or extra-large sheets of paper, which makes it a bit of a challenge to scan. Here in Digital Collections, we use several different scanners, but for this project I have been using the Qidenus, our book scanner, a lot. Between maintenance checks and calibration, it can get a little out of whack from so much use. For example, recently I discovered a slight tilt in the glass frame, while not a detectable problem with a smaller volume, it is a much bigger deal when you are working with such large volumes. But I am nothing if not dedicated to getting it right. It just requires creativity and a lot of foam pieces, of which we have plenty. Below, a time lapse condenses about 25 minutes worth of set-up into a 30-second clip so you can see all the little adjustments it takes to capture the pages perfectly.
Above: Kendall setting up the Qidenus; view is horizontal.
At this point, I have scanned two sets of volumes and a collection of loose prints, however there is still quite a bit to do before this will be completed. After the Qidenus received needed maintenance, scanning has gone by quicker, but metadata will take some time. It is going to take a very collaborative effort with experts across campus to do this collection justice. I look forward to keeping everyone in the loop as we work out the nitty-gritty of metadata for a vast Natural History collection.
This project has been an invaluable opportunity to learn more about what it takes to digitize a rare book collection. It has also been a chance to learn more about the natural history of the area. When curiosity gets the better of me, I occasionally look up the birds and other animals to compare them to Catesby’s accounts. It’s really entertaining to see how the actual animals match up to their representations. Pretty soon, you’ll probably catch me bird watching on my hikes. I have included some of my favorite images from Catesby’s work below. I especially love the “Summer Red Bird” or summer tanager.
Watch this space for more natural history and updates on the project!
James T. McCain (1905-2003) was a Civil Rights activist that was involved with the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), the Freedom Riders, the NAACP (The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People), and community service in his hometown of Sumter, South Carolina. McCain’s deeds in the Civil Rights Era are numerous, and it’s difficult to select just a few to highlight from this collection of his personal calendars and planners. From court trials, civil engagements and encounters with the FBI, his actions are something to behold as are his records of the racial crimes he sought to end. Looking at one year of his life through his calendars, you can begin to piece together his tireless days in pursuit of equality.
Calendar Year 1961: Freedom Ride
The calendar McCain kept in 1961 contains details on notable events and figures of the Civil Rights Era (1954-1968), like the first Freedom Ride. The first ride in 1961 was led by CORE and consisted of a group of white and black activists that took an interstate bus from Washington D.C. to New Orleans to evaluate how effective the Supreme Court ruling on public bus desegregation truly was. McCain makes note of the arrests and trials of students who participated in this protest. Many of these participants were beaten despite their nonviolent protest (Pace, 1993). All the while, McCain continued recruiting and training more members to the cause from SC to New Orleans, all the way down to Florida. His unceasing efforts to keep the Movement going is astounding.
One major figure in this first Freedom Ride was James “Jim” Peck. McCain wrote at one point, “May 23rd, “Gov. of S.C. attacked Freedom Riders in state paper and especially Jim Peck. Ask[ed] Justice Dept. to investigate riders [sic.].” A white Civil Rights pacifist and a member of CORE, Peck was a non-violent activist, beginning in the 1940s with his membership with the War Resisters League (Pace, 1993). He played a large role in organizing the Freedom Ride from Washington state to Alabama, and he was amongst the few who were severely beaten when their trip ended in Birmingham (Gross, 2006). To read the full newspaper article, titled “Hollings Deplores Violence Asks Probe of ‘Riders’” by Bill Mahoney, click here [PDF will automatically download]. McCain’s notes on the SC Governor’s remarks concerning Peck and the other freedom riders serve as another account of the atmosphere at the time surrounding the efforts of those seeking racial equality using non-violent protests.
McCain himself was also impressive in his demeanor. He wrote about how the FBI paid him a visit on November 24th. They questioned him about the Trailways bus terminal accident that took place in Jackson, Mississippi on November 16th. His tone in the entry was very unconcerned. It was just another day in his life; to be added to his schedule as a simple report. This shows how courageous he was, and his passion for racial equality was more important than any fear of being hounded by authorities. McCain concluded 1961 strong, showing that he was not slowing down for this fight.
More on the way soon!
Processing this collection is something to behold. There are many other events, crimes and atrocities—many needless injuries and deaths—McCain has mentioned, and the steps he took to protest and end them. There is much more history to come as we finish up Box 1. Stay tuned!
Mark Catesby’s Natural History of Carolina, Florida, and the Bahamas is an important resource for studying the animals and habitats living in these areas. Catesby’s works are some of the only remaining sources we have for many now rare and extinct animals. These historical records continue to be a valuable resource in discovering and protecting our biodiversity.
Over a hundred years ago, the Passenger Pigeon went from being the most numerous bird in America to complete extinction. Descriptions of these birds highlight the enormity of their numbers saying, “Throughout the 19th century, witnesses had described . . . sightings of pigeon migrations: how they took hours to pass over a single spot, darkening the firmament and rendering normal conversation inaudible” (Yeoman 2014). Catesby echoes this in saying that their numbers were so great “that in some places where they roost, which they do on one another’s backs, they often break down the limbs of Oaks with their weight, and leave their dung some inches thick under the trees they roost on” (Catesby, 1731, p.23). Sadly, these birds were hunted to extinction with the last one dying in captivity in 1914 (Yeoman, 2014).
Around the same time that the world lost the Passenger Pigeon, the Carolina Parakeet also became extinct. Carolina Parakeets were sighted and described by Catesby and much later by John James Audubon. While these birds were once numerous in many areas in North America, they are no longer. “What’s more, scientists don’t know what really drove these parakeets to extinction. Some thought it was habitat loss. Some thought it was hunting and trapping. Some thought disease.” (Burgio, 2018). Catesby cites that, “The orchards in autumn are visited by numerous flights of them; where they make great destruction for their kernels only”, which is a supporting argument for hunting and trapping due to damages as a means of extinction (Catseby, 1731, p.11). Interesting fact: both Martha, the last know Passenger Pigeon, and the last captive Carolina Parakeet were held by the Cincinnati Zoo.
Right click on image to see it full size.
Catesby’s descriptions can give us insight into the history of many unique animals. For example, not extinct, but categorized as endangered, is the Ivory-Billed Woodpecker, which has nearly disappeared since the time of Catesby’s works. Though there have not been any conclusive sightings of the woodpecker in 73 years, the species is still categorized as critically endangered (Donahue, 2017). Birds are not the only species recorded by Catesby to have found themselves in dire straits. He also included a few sea turtles in his works that are all now categorized as vulnerable or worse. The Loggerhead, Green, and Hawksbill sea turtles are illustrated and described in Catesby’s Natural History. Hawksbill sea turtles in particular are critically endangered due to threats from habitat loss and illegal trade (NOAA Fisheries, n.d.). Catesby’s accounts of these creatures may hold valuable information about cultural practices and environmental causes for their decline.
While it is sad to learn about the demise of these species, it is also incredible that we have Catesby’s accounts to reference and learn about their significance. The animals mentioned above are not the only ones that Catesby identified that have become endangered, but just the few that I chose to focus on. Coming up, I plan to share more about the incredible (and sometimes rare) animals and plants captured in their environments by Catesby.
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.