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!

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

Employee Feature: Mackenzie Anderson

Mackenzie Anderson
Mackenzie Anderson, head shot

By Mackenzie Anderson

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.

The Meyera E. Oberndorf Central Library: The first library I ever worked at. I worked here the summer between my junior and senior years of college. https://tinyurl.com/ybqnhoqy
The Meyera E. Oberndorf Central Library: The first library I ever worked at. I worked here the summer between my junior and senior years of college. https://tinyurl.com/ybqnhoqy








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.

A fore-edge painting from the Ralph H. Wark Collection at the Earl Gregg Swem Library that I photographed as part of my social media project.
A fore-edge painting from the Ralph H. Wark Collection at the Earl Gregg Swem Library that I photographed as part of my social media project.











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.

At the Missouri State Archive, I worked extensively with genealogical records. Most of the records were on microfilm, but on occasion, we came into contact with handwritten documents such as the marriage records above.
At the Missouri State Archive, I worked extensively with genealogical records. Most of the records were on microfilm, but on occasion, we came into contact with handwritten documents such as the marriage records above.
A lot of the work I did at the Missouri State Archive involved preservation. We spent several weeks of the summer humidifying Supreme Court documents that had been folded up in boxes for decades. To flatten the documents, we created humidification chambers such as the one above.
A lot of the work I did at the Missouri State Archive involved preservation. We spent several weeks of the summer humidifying Supreme Court documents that had been folded up in boxes for decades. To flatten the documents, we created humidification chambers such as the one above.













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.

Food, Glorious Food!

By Kendall Hallberg

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!)



  • Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. (2016). Ilex vomitoria. Retrieved from: https://www.wildflower.org/plants/result.php?id_plant=ILVO
  • 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.

Employee Feature: Allison Rogers

“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.

The Aiken Recorder
The Aiken Recorder

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.

Left to Right: Laura Stillwagon, Alex Trim, Allison Rogers, Stephanie Gilbert, [under table] Chauna Carr
Left to Right: Laura Stillwagon, Alex Trim, Allison Rogers, Stephanie Gilbert, [under table] Chauna Carr

Introduction to the Center for Digital Humanities’ Piranesi Project

By Mackenzie Anderson

Hello! My name is Mackenzie Anderson, I am a graduate student in Library and Information Science here at the University of South Carolina, and I am working on the Piranesi project.

The Piranesi project was created and is spearheaded by Dr. Jeanne Britton, Irvin Department of Rare Books and Special Collections curator and Department of English Language and Literature affiliate faculty. The project itself is executed by both the Center for Digital Humanities, located in UofSC’s Innovation Center, and the Digital Collections department, located in the Ernest F. Hollings Library. Awarded an NEH grant 2019-2021, “The Digital Piranesi” digitally enacts graphic features of Giovanni Piranesi’s innovative works in a comprehensive digital collection and an interactive digital edition.

Veduta dell’Avanzo del Mausoleo di S. Elena, madre di Constantino Imperatore… (View of the mausoleum of Saint Helena, Rome) from Piranesi, Opere, Vol. 3, Le Antichita romane, (part 3 of 4)
Veduta dell’Avanzo del Mausoleo di S. Elena, madre di Constantino Imperatore… (View of the mausoleum of Saint Helena, Rome) from Piranesi, Opere, Vol. 3, Le Antichita romane, (part 3 of 4)

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.

Veduta di un gran masso, avanzo del sepolcro della famiglia de' Metelli sulla via Appia ... (View of the remains of the tomb of the Metelli on the Via Appia) from Piranesi, Opere, Vol. 3, Le Antichita romane, (part 3 of 4)
Veduta di un gran masso, avanzo del sepolcro della famiglia de’ Metelli sulla via Appia … (View of the remains of the tomb of the Metelli on the Via Appia) from Piranesi, Opere, Vol. 3, Le Antichita romane, (part 3 of 4)


Introduction to the M. Hayes Mizell Papers

By Stephanie Gilbert

My name is Stephanie Gilbert and I am one of the new Digital Assistants here at Digital Collections. Perhaps some of you have heard of Hayes Mizell. For several years, Mizell was a prominent Civil Rights Activist.  He served as director of the South Carolina Community Relations Program of the American Friends Service Committee from 1966-1982, and in one of his speeches likened his role to that of a “professional advocate”.  Mizell traveled all over the U.S. delivering speeches in support of school integration and educational improvements for students from low-income families. His collection includes personal images of himself and his associates as well as letters, programs, and copies of his many speeches.

Three Negative Strips from a Photoshoot for Hayes Mizell 
Three Negative Strips from a Photoshoot for Hayes Mizell
Hayes Mizell Giving a Speech 
Hayes Mizell Giving a Speech









So, what exactly is my role when digitizing this collection?  As the digital assistant, the first step is always scanning.  I ensure that each item is clearly scanned, edited, and stored in the proper format. Next, I create metadata that is entered into an excel spreadsheet which will then be run through a series of programs to polish the data.  It then gets loaded online through ContentDM which makes it public so that researchers have full access to the materials.  Though this process is lengthy and detail heavy, it ensures that another format of the materials exist, so the documents are preserved physically and digitally.

Speech by Hayes Mizell to AFSC Middle Atlantic Regional Office Fall Retreat, October 2, 1976 
Speech by Hayes Mizell to AFSC Middle Atlantic Regional Office Fall Retreat, October 2, 1976

New job + new skill set = amazing!  I am thoroughly enjoying my time here at Digital Collections.  I have found it quite refreshing to meet new people and learn more about a different area of information science.  The environment is quiet, peaceful, and filled with friendly people who are a pleasure to work with and learn from.  I am also enjoying the Mizell Collection.  I find that I always become fond of whatever collection I work on.  I tend to form an emotional connection through physically handling documents, and the items in this collection to me serve as the physical embodiment of Mizell’s influence in the community.  It is so easy to form an attachment when you think of his work in this way.  It is also eye-opening to preserve items digitally as opposed to physically rehousing with folders and boxes.  I look forward to what else my future spent with Digital Collections and the Hayes Mizell Collection will hold!

Spring internship reflection: South Carolina & the Civil War digital exhibit

By Kendall Hallberg

My internship with Digital Collections had me working on a digital exhibit entitled “South Carolina and the Civil War”.  These collections are curated in the Visual Materials department at South Caroliniana Library, and are digitized and published online by Digital Collections. This project gave me the opportunity to apply the knowledge I have collected during my Master’s program in library and information science, as well as learning important new skills. This semester in general has been a wonderful chance to work closely with issues related to User Experience (UX). I am glad to have had a role in bringing this collection to the public in a new way.

The research phase of this project allowed me to explore the collection and develop an understanding of what it had to offer to the intended audience. These exhibits are an opportunity to explore the collection unencumbered by the metadata and confusing nature of our collections repository, ContentDM. The items selected for the exhibit reflect this intention by needing little to no interpretation to be explored and understood for their significance. Organizing these items into coherent categories took a bit of consideration. The existing digital exhibits are done either by theme or the type of material. Considering the end user, I had to plan for the ways in which the items would be used. The decision to group by theme was made because it offers better browsing and variation with the pages.

Designing the WordPress site was a chance to learn and explore more about User Design and UX. Learning Adobe XD, I was able to plan the layout and features of the exhibit. Adobe XD is a great, free software for UX when communicating ideas to a programmer. Though I was working with certain limitations, I was also able to explore the look and feel of the site with the prototype I designed. This prototype also meant that I was able to give viewers the chance to see how the exhibit would act. During my pitch (internship requirement to pitch an exhibition mock up), I received helpful feedback and questions that improved the final product. I loved working with Sarah Funk from Library Technology Services and having her bring all of my ideas to fruition.

Loading the content into WordPress (our choice of collections web portal) was simple enough and it was great to see all of the items I had selected really come together and shine in such a visual way. The real challenge in loading came in terms of titles and descriptions. There were many instances, especially regarding the Dr. Robert S. Chamberlain collection of Civil War covers, where the titles needed to better describe the material for the sake of exhibiting. I ended up finding those key elements for titles for each material type and keeping it consistent across all the selected items.

I really enjoyed working with the awesome people in UofSC Digital Collections who helped me make this exhibit. Mēgan really trusted me to do a great job and I think I was able to accomplish that with their input and encouragement. I truly look forward to working with them in the future.*


*We did not pay Kendall to say these wonderful things! 🙂

Employee feature: Meet Allison!

By Allison Rogers

Allison working with illustrations on the Zeutschel OS 14000 A0 planetary scanner

Hello, I’m Allison, one of the new digitization specialists in the Digital Collections family. When I’m not studying for exams and assignments in my undergraduate degree in Computer Science, I’m digitizing letters and documents from the American Revolution or scanning film from newspapers in the 1950s. While meticulously charting metadata can sometimes be monotonous, the work is intriguing. In digitizing the material we have, I get to experience a more casual glimpse into American history, as I review letters about plantations, accounts of purchased goods, and even notes from meetings of the Continental Congress. Currently, I’ve been scanning and creating metadata for newspapers that my grandparents might have read in the morning before heading to work.

What I do here is not only fascinating; it’s distinctly different from what I do in my classes at the university. Computational science can be extremely engaging and exciting, but the work I do now is dry and technical, with little room for creativity and perspective. Additionally, many of the career paths for these kinds of majors are concerned with how to create more profit for already giant companies. Before working here, there seemed to be little application for involving art, literature, or history.

Allison working with illustrations on the Zeutschel OS 14000 A0 planetary scanner

Working at Digital Collections has truly been a magical experience for me. In my classes at the university, programming is logic and linear algebra and string operations on arbitrary homework assignments. Here, in the basement of the library, among gorgeous aged rare books, I see incredibly intelligent and skilled individuals writing and running scripts, coding databases, interpreting and analyzing metadata, and preserving rare historic material. It is astounding and encouraging to be a part of a department that marries programming with history.

I am also delighted to see so many women around me engaged in programming, troubleshooting, and web development. It’s wonderful working with such talented and skilled women, especially coming from a male dominated field. In my short time in this office, I have come realize that a background in computing and programing can offer a sort of modernization to the humanities, and that we can work together to keep art and history and cultural relevant in an increasingly digital age. Although for now, I do simple data input, I’m excited to learn more about web development and big data analysis and apply it here or in adjacent areas as the field of digital humanities expands.

Digitizing a sample of the John Caldwell Calhoun Papers

By Sarah Moore

I landed in digital collections by pure serendipity.  I entered the Public History program with a focus on historic preservation at the University of South Carolina. Receiving no funding from my department, I applied for a position in Digital Collections helping to digitize The Gamecock from the late 1980s to the mid-1990s. Discovering my love for Library Science too late, I continue to work in Digital Collections hoping to build upon my interest in  how digital collections can be used for historical preservation. Over the last few months, I have worked on five different projects including digitizing a portion of the John Caldwell Calhoun papers.

A silked letter from J. C. Calhoun to his mother Floride Colhoun. Note the surname spelled differently.

In planning for the Teacher Workshops for Social Studies teachers, library organizers selected the John Caldwell Calhoun papers for use in the workshop. A controversial figure of history today, Calhoun was an active proponent of slavery and states’ rights during his political career. A native of South Carolina, Calhoun served in the United States House of Representatives, became the Secretary of War and became the Vice President of United States. Thus, it was easy to see why items from this collection were ideal for a workshop focused on helping social studies teachers utilize digital collections in their classroom.

This collection consists mainly of business and personal correspondence of John C. Calhoun from the South Caroliniana Library, little of which was digitized. For the workshop, a few letters were selected to be digitized. In selecting this letters, however, it was discovered that these letters were silked, in attempt to preserve the letters. Silking was a conservation technique used in the late nineteenth century and the early twentieth centuries. In basic terms, this process consisted of adhering a thin piece of transparent silk to a document. The reasoning behind this process was to slow down the deterioration process of the paper (Barrow, 1942; McCarthy, 2016).

In digitizing the Calhoun papers for the Teacher’s Workshop, my initial thoughts were on time management for the project, in order to ensure that everything was accessible and usable for the workshop. Thus, my focus was on the project flow of this endeavor, scanning all the items and ensuring clear images, that any questions about the metadata edited, and everything loaded on the library depository, well before the deadline. Although it was interesting to see and work with letters that went through this early method of preservation, the fact that items in this collection were silked was not a part of my initial focus.

I started by scanning letters from the Calhoun collection on the Zeutschel, a large flat base scanner in the Digital Collections office. In looking at the first images of the scanned letters, I noted problems in seeing the handwriting in the images. Since the letters were going to be used in a workshop, and the fact that handwriting from the nineteenth century materials are in themselves hard to read, the clearest images were needed. Thus, I sought advice on getting more clear images. The library consulted a conservator to see what could be done about the silked documents while in the office, basic research was conducted into experiences from other libraries and archives in using silked materials.

A silked letter from J. C. Calhoun to his mother Floride Colhoun. Note the surname spelled differently.

One unexpected outcome of silked archival items it that the items become harder to read over time. The aluminum in the paste affected the acidity of the paper, resulting in ink dissolving and discoloration of the paper overall. It is possible that this what led to the discoloration in the documents. Further research also revealed that this process often used arsenic. While there was no evidence that these materials contained arsenic, I took precautions and wore gloves when handling the Calhoun papers (Information Resource Management Association, 2019; McCarthy, 2016).

While the problem with clarity of some of the images remained, I continued to scan the letters and began to create metadata in hopes some of the images could still be used in the Teachers Workshop. The last step was to add the images and metadata in to the library’s digital depository known as CONTENTdm, so the images would be accessible online through the Library’s website. Some of the more legible images were used in the teacher’s workshop. The fully digitized John Caldwell Calhoun collection can be found here: https://digital.library.sc.edu/collections/john-c-calhoun-papers/


Barrow, W. J. Restoration Methods. (1942) The American Archivist. Page 152 Retrieved from http://www.americanarchivist.org/doi/pdf/10.17723/aarc.6.3.497248722g4584rr?code=SAME-site.

Information Resource Management Association USA. (2019). Digital Curation: Breakthrough in Research and Practice. Retrieved from https://books.google.com/books?id=lcxjDwAAQBAJ&pg=PA200&lpg=PA200&dq=arsenic+in+silking+archival+materials&source=bl&ots=ymV2dnhioj&sig=nzhC0NeX3EpyvjEGAzeaKA2nyAU&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwiwv5jFv-rdAhWC21MKHcwZDfAQ6AEwCXoECAIQAQ#v=onepage&q=arsenic%20in%20silking%20archival%20materials&f=false.

McCarthy, C. of YUL Conservation and Exhibition Services, Preservation Department, Yale University. (2016 October 11). “Arsenic and Old Paste: Using XRF to Assess Silked Documents” [Blog Post]. Retrieved from https://yulconservationandexhibitservices.wordpress.com/2016/10/.


WORLD WAR I: Centennial Selections from University of South Carolina Libraries

By Mae Howe

Red Cross Nurse’s Album, Irvin Dept. Special Collections

To commemorate the centennial of “America’s Forgotten War,” Digital Collections has teamed up with five of the University of South Carolina’s special libraries and McKissick Museum to create a digital exhibition that features compelling photos, papers, and publications from our Great War holdings. The exhibit includes over a thousand previously digitized materials, new archival selections, and recent acquisitions from Government Information and Maps, Irvin Department of Rare Books and Special Collections, McKissick Museum, the Music Library, South Carolina Political Collections, and South Caroliniana Library.

WORLD WAR I: Centennial Selections from University of South Carolina Libraries” juxtaposes the experiences of individuals with the political climate; the home front in our beloved Palmetto State with the battlefront on foreign soil; America’s entry into the war with the Allies’ victory over the Axis Powers. In addition to liberty bond propaganda, anti-German cartoons, and patriotic sheet music, this retrospective includes the correspondence of an African-American Croix de Guerre recipient from South Carolina, the scrapbook of a Red Cross nurse serving in the main theatre of war, and the reaction of a soldier stationed in France when the “War to End All Wars” officially ceased.

Topical Sketches by Douglas G. Ward, Irvin Dept. Special Collections

This digital exhibition aligns with the United States World War I Centennial Commission’s aim to “raise awareness and give meaning to the events of a hundred years ago” and is accompanied by physical exhibits in both the Ernest F. Hollings Library and McKissick Museum. The Irvin Department of Special Collections will also host a talk by Dr. Janet Hudson, on November 14: Black Soldiers Mattered, Carolina’s Unheralded African American Soldiers of the Great War.”

The support of many persons and departments made this project possible, but special thanks goes to Mēgan Oliver, Digital Collections Librarian, for initiating and supervising the exhibition, Sarah Funk, Library Technology Services Web Manager, for designing and troubleshooting the website, and Mae Howe, Digital Collections Intern, for organizing and managing the project. This exhibition is the first of many, with future projects slated for spring, summer, and fall of 2019 on Civil Rights, Scottish Literature, and the Civil War in South Carolina. Please contact Digital Collections via digital1@mailbox.sc.edu with any questions or comments about our exhibition.