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! 🙂

Justice For All: A Digital Exhibit for South Carolina Civil Rights

By Mēgan Oliver

In December of 2018, Digital Collections Librarian, Mēgan Oliver, and Library Web Developer (Library Technology Services (LTS)), Sarah Funk, met with the exhibition team from the Center for Civil Rights History and Research.  The civil rights team was planning an exhibition entitled “Justice for All: South Carolina and the Civil Rights Movement“. The team members, Dr. Bobby Donaldson, Jill Found, Patrice Green,  Jennifer Melton, Celeste Minor,  and Jonathon Johnson, expressed their needs for a digital exhibit, and we in Digi and LTS laid out what digital exhibition options are available (we’re building digital exhibits in WordPress currently). The civil rights team chose their layout, essentially the digital look and feel of the exhibit, and expressed their goals. As the Director of the Center, Dr. Donaldson communicated what was most important, in terms of the collection’s context and emphasized how he wanted to highlight visually compelling digital archives to support the physical exhibit of Justice for All: South Carolina and the American Civil Rights Movement. With these parameters, Digi and LTS began working to support this traditional exhibit structure with an online component.

The exhibit opened in the Ernest F. Hollings Library in February of 2019,  complete with civil rights speakers, tours of the collections, special events, and a variety of press releases. This summer, the exhibit will see it’s final few months. Don’t miss the incredible collections on display! Justice for All is open until August 31. If you can’t make it to Columbia, SC to see it in person, not to worry: there’s a permanent digital exhibit with the same title, Justice for All.

 

John H. McCray Digital Collection

Portrait of John H. McCray, year unknown

By Chauna Carr

As part of the Justice For All exhibit at Hollings Library, the Center for Civil Rights History and Research at UofSC created a timeline of African Americans in South Carolina, advocating for the full rights promised to them by the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments. John H. McCray was but one of many who played an influential role in the fight for justice for African Americans in South Carolina and across the nation. McCray was the founder, editor, and publisher of the Lighthouse and Informer weekly newspaper, one of the top black newspapers of its day. He used the newspaper to launch his program for black political participation, and to advocate for racial equity and social justice.

McCray’s entire collection is digitized and available through the South Caroliniana Library. However, upon putting the exhibit materials together for Justice For All, it was discovered that the McCray collection needed some updating. As a preliminary task to the collection-wide metadata assessment underway in the Digital Collections department, Digital Collections Librarian Mēgan Oliver tasked me with cleaning up the McCray metadata. I started the project in January and am making steady progress. Keep an eye out for those improvements and more updates in the future. If you live in the area and are interested in this topic, stop by the Ernest F. Hollings Special Collections Library to see the Justice For All exhibit up until August 2. If you cannot stop by in person, visit our digital exhibit:  https://digital.library.sc.edu/exhibits/civilrights/

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.