Cataloging Historic Student Work

As FSU students were finishing up their final papers for the semester, at Complex Cataloging we were working on a group of theses and dissertations written by FSU students long ago. Our project involved almost 600 digitized works from graduate and undergraduate students, most of them written between 1920 and 1979. Electronic theses and dissertations are popular items for researchers: as of December 10, 2015, 1,974,053 titles in this category have been downloaded from the institutional repository. We wanted to create records that would make our digitized theses and dissertations available to anyone who needed them.

From An Analysis of Typewriting Errors Made by Students in a Second-Year Typewriting Class at Leon High School, Tallahassee, Florida, Patricia M. Barrineau, 1954.
From An Analysis of Typewriting Errors Made by Students in a Second-Year Typewriting Class at Leon High School, Tallahassee, Florida, Patricia M. Barrineau, 1954.

These student works are windows into the past, giving us a look at a world that no longer exists – a world where the cutting edge of school technology involved typewriting classes and film reels, where many teachers were not allowed to attend the theater, play cards, or dance.

This study from 1951 found that one of the main reasons students didn't want to become teachers was "cramped style." (A Study of Professional Hazards Faced by Teachers New to the School Communities in Which They Are to Teach with Suggestions for Meeting Such Hazards, Mary Cleveland Hubbard)
This study from 1951 found that one of the main reasons students didn’t want to become teachers was “cramped style.” (A Study of Professional Hazards Faced by Teachers New to the School Communities in Which They Are to Teach with Suggestions for Meeting Such Hazards, Mary Cleveland Hubbard)

 

Some of the works that we cataloged were written by teachers and librarians who were already working in the field while finishing their degrees. They wrote about the tensions and problems they had seen in their own schools and communities.

This author was the principal of a school in a small town that objected to "girls' wearing shorts in physical education classes." (A Guide to a Program to Improve School-Community Relations for the Bethlehem School, Philip D. McKinnon, 1952)
This author was the principal of a school in a small town that objected to “girls’ wearing shorts in physical education classes.” (A Guide to a Program to Improve School-Community Relations for the Bethlehem School, Philip D. McKinnon, 1952)

Other works included personal details from contemporary authors that are available nowhere else.

This student got a letter from Dr. Seuss! (Theodor Seuss Geisel: A Bio-Bibliography, Verna Summer Kohn, 1956)
This student got a letter from Dr. Seuss! (Theodor Seuss Geisel: A Bio-Bibliography, Verna Summer Kohn, 1956)

To help make these theses and dissertations part of the Digital Library, we had to come up with a way of creating records for the electronic works based on their print versions. First, an automated process was used to gather the catalog records as a batch.  Then, the Complex Cataloging team, along with Amy Weiss, Head of Cataloging and Description, updated and enhanced the catalog records in WorldCat and FSU’s catalog. The records now contain information that will allow researchers to find them in a number of ways, and to know from reading each record whether that work is the one they want. Next, Annie Glerum, Head of Complex Cataloging, developed an XSLT program that was custom tailored for this project, using more updated XPath functions than other similar programs, to transform them into the format used by the Digital Library. Once these records are added to the Digital Library, researchers will have access to these fascinating student works that not only tell us about our history, but also make a contribution to scholarship in many fields.

 

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