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

Epidemics Through the South Carolina Newspapers

By Kate Boyd

The Horry Herald, August 3rd, 1911. Page 3

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.

The Herald and News, October 1, 1918

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.

The Herald and News, October 1, 1918

A year later, The Edgefield Adviser on February 5, 1919 reports that the State Legislature in Columbia tried to take a recess until July, but the Senate voted that idea down.  In July of 1919, The Horry Herald reports that a doctor has a cure for the flu! Then, that fall the Lancaster News reports that the flu may come back.

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

The Edgefield Adviser, February 5, 1919
The Edgefield Adviser, February 5, 1919

article, “Big Ten Universities Analyze Bird Flu Outbreak Possibilities,” is foreboding in what it says could happen on college campuses, and what we are trying to avoid now by staying home.  And, in 2006 an article talks about the potential of more viruses jumping from animals or birds to humans.

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.

How To Cure a Cold in One Day: and Other Medicinal Oddities from the Past

By Allison Rogers

Hey. How are you feeling? Do you have a runny nose? A slight but persistent cough? Perhaps even a fever? Sounds like a cold to me. And if you’re in Gaffney, South Carolina in 1905, you’re in luck! This excerpt of a 1905 issue of ‘The Ledger’ from Gaffney, South Carolina reads “To cure a cold in one day, take Laxative Bromo Quinine Cold Tablets!”

The Ledger Friday, December 9, 1904
The Ledger Friday, December 9, 1904

Widely known as a cure for influenza, the Bromo Quinine tablets’ main active ingredient was quinine hydrobromide, which resulted in long term psychiatric and neurological damage to those who consistently ingested the tablets (Olson, 2003; “Bromo Quinine Cold Tablets,” 2019)

Perhaps your illness is more serious, and you have determined that you suffer from a “disease of circulation” (whatever that means). Good thing you have Handcock’s Liquid Sulphur! You have at last found “nature’s own remedy from the bosom of Mother Earth”.

The Ledger Friday, November 25, 1904
The Ledger Friday, November 25, 1904

Two years later in November of 1907, an inspector from the Department of Agriculture (DOA) purchased the Liquid Sulphur. One of the samples was subjected to analysis in the Bureau of Chemistry at the DOA and was determined to consist of an aqueous solution of commercial calcium sulphid, which was not a natural germicide, as was claimed on the label. The bureau found that the claims made by Handcock’s Liquid Sulphur were “false, misleading, and deceptive” (Gane & Webster, 1909).

The Ledger Friday, November 4, 1904
The Ledger Friday, November 4, 1904

Finally, we have everyone’s favorite medicine Pe-ru-na, used to treat about anything you can think of. Peruna was one of the most popular medicines sold from the late 19th to mid 20th century. Samuel Hartman, creator of Peruna, was making as much as $100,000 a day from the product, which was believed to work so well that babies were named after it (Hunter, 2012). In 1906, a claim was made that Peruna and other patent-medicines were frauds, alleging that Peruna itself was 28% alcohol. This claim, among others, led to the passage of the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906 (Kennedy, 2000), whose main purpose was to ban diluted or mislabeled food and drug products. Basically, the law was a “truth in labeling” law designed to raise standards in the food and drug industries and protect the reputations and pocketbooks of honest businessmen.

To check out more ads with absurd scientifically falsified claims, check out the Historical Newspapers of South Carolina! The clippings seen here are from The Ledger, which we are hard at work digitizing. Until it’s released, check out our other new titles which also feature fun medical solutions for your ailments: McCormick Messenger and The Sun (Newberry, SC).  https://historicnewspapers.sc.edu/

 

 

Works Cited

Olson, K. R., Anderson, I. B., & Benowitz, N. L. (2004). Poisoning & drug overdose. New York: Lange

Bromo Quinine Cold Tablets.; Grove Laboratories; 1940s; Fincham Collection 237. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://ehive.com/collections/4339/objects/358512/bromo-quinine-cold-tablets

Gane, E. H. & Webster, M. H. (1909). Laboratory Notes from the Analytical Department of McKesson & Robbins. Drug Topics, 24(2), p.22

Hunter, B. (2012). A historical guidebook to old Columbus: Finding the past in the present in Ohio’s capital city.

Kennedy, S.  (2000, February). Adams, Samuel Hopkins (1871-1958), muckraker and writer. American National Biography. Retrieved 26 Nov. 2019, from https://www.anb.org/view/10.1093/anb/9780198606697.001.0001/anb-9780198606697-e-1600013

 

Meet the Mekel, Our Microfilm Scanning Machine

By Allison Rogers

Newberry Sun
Newberry Sun

On the far side of the office in Digital Collections sits a squat, gray machine about the size of a CPU: the Mekel. Before I started digitizing newspapers, I was told that it scans microfilm. Not being quite sure what microfilm was, I quickly forgot about the machine in the wake of the glorious, planetary Zeutschel scanner we have. These days, though, I’ve been getting pretty familiar with the cute little Mekel. Here in the office, we’ve been working for a while on digitizing issues of The Newberry Sun, issues dating from around the 1950s to the 1970s. I decided to get in on the fun, and in being part of this project, I experience the intricacies of our newspaper collections.

Microfilm comes to us in rolls slightly larger than the palm of your hand. The film gets unrolled in a very specific woven path around the knobs of the Mekel. Start up the scan and hang out for about an hour and a half and – boom – you have about a thousand JPG files that make up two years of newspaper articles. These images are processed using a Mekel-based software called QuantumProcess, edited in Photoshop (we call it “post-process”), and meticulously documented during the metadata creation process. If there’s even a tiny error in the metadata, the content won’t be able to be uploaded to the our historical newspaper database, http://historicnewspapers.sc.edu/

There are series of other steps; ABBYY OCR (optical character recognition) processing, re-naming, XML creation, and various homebrewed scripts passed down from the days of yore (1999!). These processes are sort of like running a chemistry lab experiment, in that you must have everything properly set up, executed, and documented, or it blows up and you’re starting from scratch again.

Thankfully, nothing has blown up – yet – and after a long semester, we uploaded 11 rolls of The Newberry Sun. Since then, I’ve become the head newspaper person, and am helping to organize and digitize issues of The Clinton Chronicle, Barnwell People, Barnwell Sentinel, The McCormick Messenger, and The Clothmaker. Feel free to take a look at these newspapers here: http://historicnewspapers.sc.edu/