Two Years Down, One Year to Go

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

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

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

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

Take a look at these plant specimens:

Check out this beauty of a mineral:

And the shells…

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

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

Correspondence like this one:

Transcription:

“My dear sir

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

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

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

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

Manuscripts like this one:

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

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

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

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

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

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

James Clyburn: Then and Now

By Laura Stillwagon

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.

Before the aberrant events of today, Majority Whip Clyburn was involved in both social justice and bureaucracy during and after the Civil Rights Era. An active participant in the Civil Rights Movement, outtakes from the two speeches given by Martin Luther King, Jr. in Columbia show Clyburn at the front row. Following the Civil Rights Movement, he was the acting Head of the South Carolina Human Affairs Commission. Rep. Clyburn was also an assistant to the South Carolina Governor West for Human Resources, where he dispelled misinformation on the economic disparities of poor and African American people-in-need. In 1971, Clyburn was elected president of Young Democrats of South Carolina. In 2015, Clyburn announced the donation of his papers to the Center for Civil Rights History and Research as part of the opening ceremony for the establishment of the center at the University of South Carolina’s Hollings Library.

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!

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References

Forgey, Q. (2020, 5 April). Clyburn: House coronavirus panel ‘will be forward-looking,’ not review Trump’s early response. Politico. Retrieved from https://www.politico.com/news/2020/04/05/trump-clyburn-house-coronavirus-panel-166064

 

A New Civil Rights Collection Coming Soon

By Laura Stillwagon

Council on Library and Information Resources
Council on Library and Information Resources

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’

(CLIR) Digitizing Hidden Collections grant. The award is given to those institutions that have expressed a need for digitizing a collection that is relatively unknown and that will bring new knowledge to a subject. Rightly titled, New Insights on South Carolina and the American Civil Rights Movement: National Interracial Activism in the South Carolina Council on Human Relations Papers, the collection expands on what is already known about civil rights and the Civil Rights Era, bringing about more awareness, more knowledge and, hopefully, more evidence for change.

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.

 

[Part III: William D. Workman, Jr. Photographs] Wrapping up!

By Chauna Carr

One of the reasons I enjoyed working on this project was the chance to work with Mēgan Oliver and the equipment and software used in Digital Collections. Mēgan knew how skeptical I was to start mid-project, but she was great at encouraging me to tackle any issues I came up against head on. She is a big part of the very open and warm atmosphere fostered within Digital Collections. She has a wealth of knowledge on all things digital, as well as on professional development and job hunting. She has become a great resource and acquaintance to have as I make my way into the professional industry.

Probably one of the best things about working in Digital Collections is Mēgan and Kate’s trust in their student’s abilities*. They not only give you confidence but encouragement that you have what it takes to complete your project (or else they would not have hired you in the first place). More often than not with projects like this, encouragement is hard to come by. It is nice to know that what you are doing is right and you are not just guessing and hoping it is good enough. Their communication is top notch.

Coming into the grant mid-project and not being fully knowledgeable of the entirety of the subject matter made completing the written tasks quite challenging to say the least. Those assignments (specifically those dealing with creating social media content) were probably the hardest for me to complete. I tended to overthink what kind of content would engage our digital audience and remain relevant to our project. Now that I have made it through this project I have more confidence in my ability to tackle problems that are unfamiliar. That is probably one of the best feelings to come away with, the confidence in my new found skills. It makes me that much more confident that I can find a position and work my way up, taking on more responsibility and tackling larger assignments as a go. It may seem like a small thing, but that confidence is everything. This project has been the perfect opportunity to exercise all of the skills I have learned the past two years, and a great experience to add to my resume overall.

Chauna is heading into her final semester for the Masters in Library and Information Science here at the University of South Carolina, Columbia. She is preparing her final portfolio of all her work done for the past two years, editing her resume, and on the hunt for jobs in the archival world. Her hope is to find an archival or library fellowship overseas to give her access to potential employment in England; a goal inspired by her recent month-long study abroad program in London. Her current interests rest in fashion archives, Oceanic, African and African-American art and art history. Her pursuits are quite varied and her experience is diverse. [We hope she finds a place to match her incredible skill set.]

*We did not pay Chauna to say nice things about her supervisors. She actually likes us!

 

[Part II: William D. Workman, Jr. Photographs] Reprocessing

Chauna working on the Workman project

As mentioned previously the reprocessing of the Workman photographs began last Fall (2017) with Mae Howe conducting the arrangement and reprocessing of the collection images. She rehoused all of the materials collection using proper storage resources for preservation sake, as well as adequately addressing all of the new changes and topics covered in each image in an updated finding aid. Mae worked diligently with the help of Laura Litwer (South Carolina Political Collections digital initiatives archivist) to create a finding aid that covered the extensive collection of images Workman kept. A challenge in itself due to the many duplicates the collection contains. Questions quickly arose as to how redundant the finding aid should be in this regard. The two agreed that to minimize redundancy an appendix should be made.

To further explain, the Workman photograph collection houses different size print images and different size negatives, mostly of those same images and of others that remained undeveloped by Workman. Mae not only had to identify the duplicates in a collection of over 3,000 images, but she also had to identify potential copyright violators, create item level metadata, and continually update the finding aid with the daily changes whenever she came across the two previously mentioned issues. She achieved these tasks that quite thoroughly with only minor mistakes that Chauna would later find and fix.

Chauna working on the Workman project

Chauna took over the project for Mae at the beginning of the summer, picking up where she left off digitizing negatives. Chauna was placed in a unique situation where she had to start in the middle of a large project and carry on the work of someone else. With a little help from Mae and her trusty blue binder filled with detailed notes, she was able to continue her initial work and complete the digitization and creation of metadata for the remaining Workman negatives.  It may not seem like much but starting where someone else has left off is a daunting task in itself. If you remember from this post, we had to take some time to get our bearings and review the progress completed up to this point.

NHPRC

Chauna quickly found her footing and was able to complete the remaining scans and add valuable information to the metadata where necessary. When processing images and creating metadata at the item level it takes some time to create item specific information. But, Chauna gladly accepted the challenge having done similar tasks in the past with South Carolina Political Collections. Now all that is left for her to do is upload the images to CONTENTdm, finalize the finding aid, and release the collection for public access online.

[Part I: William D. Workman, Jr. Photographs] Introduction & Behind the scenes

By Chauna Carr, Grant Assistant

At the beginning of the 2017-2018 school year, South Carolina Political Collections (SCPC) began their yearlong grant project with National Historical Publications & Records Commission (NHPRC). They were granted funding to rehouse and digitize William D. Workman’s entire photograph collection. The grant provided for an assistantship originally awarded to Mae Howe, a current graduate student at the University of South Carolina’s School of Library and Information Science. She carried the project through to the second stage where Chauna Carr, also a graduate student in UofSC’s SLIS program, picked it up and will see it through to the end. To read more about the launch of the project and the phases of reprocessing click here!

Chauna Carr, Grant Assistant

Chauna found her way to archiving through an undergraduate degree in History with minors in Classical Studies and Art History from Virginia Tech (VT). She knew she wanted to pursue archiving as well as library science from having worked at the VT main campus library throughout her entire undergraduate career (a total of five years). During that time, she also found herself volunteering at local institutions in town who needed help organizing their small collections. It was there she found her love of archiving. One could say it came from her deep-seated love for organization and bringing order to a chaotic space. The work at these small local institutions was just that. She was given the opportunity to reorganize entire libraries, update book databases, create inventories, rifle through boxes of old letters and closets full of costumes, and throughout that process learn about her hometown and neighboring areas and the past generations who lived there.

Upon finding great joy in archival processing (which she did not know she was doing until she came to UofSC), she began looking for masters programs that would give her not only the necessary education to become an archivist but also a varied enough background that she could venture into any arena in which an archivist could be found. Upon starting her degree, she quickly discovered that archiving crosses many fields. Corporate, political, medical, and commercial businesses all need an archivist in some capacity to handle their records, whether digital or otherwise. The name of the position may be different, but the job itself will still hold similar elements. Chauna initially looked at museum studies programs wanting to focus on archives in museums.

However, UofSC’s library science program appealed to her for its versatility. A student could essentially build their own program apart from the three required courses necessary to complete the degree. The university itself boasts an excellent history program as well as a museum management certificate both of which provide courses that she figured would make up an excellent and well-rounded masters program. Thus Chauna found herself applying to  her father’s alma mater. A fact that initially dissuaded her from applying, since his specialty in libraries is more data analysis and computer science, which does not appeal to her at all (at least not the data analysis part).

NHPRC

She was accepted in 2016 and immediately began searching for a part-time job to gain more hands-on experience to complement her degree. That is how she landed at SCPC. She has been there going on two years and three months now. In that time she has learned so much from the wonderful staff that works there including archival processing and arrangement, metadata, digitization practices, working a reference desk, handling patron requests and more. This grant project has been a great opportunity to exercise all the skills she has learned from SCPC thus far.