All posts by Krystal Thomas

About Krystal Thomas

Digital Archivist at Florida State University

A Look into the History of a Tallahassee Church

Page from Parish Register, 1832-1923, 1940
Page from Parish Register, 1832-1923, 1940

The St. John’s Episcopal Church Records includes administrative records; member registries; meeting minutes of the Vestry and church circles; Bibles, Books of Common Prayer, hymnals, and other liturgical works; documentation of the history of St. John’s Church and the Episcopal Diocese of Florida; service bulletins and other periodicals; sermon transcripts; photographs; and motion pictures. We recently completed digitization and making available some of the registers from the collection. These materials give you a look into parish life from 1832 to 1953. In particular, these registers track baptisms, burials and marriages in the Church over that time period.

St. John’s is the mother church of the Diocese of Florida. It was founded as a mission parish in 1829, and the church’s first building was erected in 1837. The Diocese was organized at St. John’s in 1838 and Francis Huger Rutledge, who became rector of St. John’s in 1845, was consecrated the first Bishop of Florida in 1851. The original church burned in 1879; a new church was built on the same site and consecrated in 1888, and it is still the parish’s principal place of worship.

For more information about the collection, visit its finding aid and to see the digitized materials, visit its digital collection home.

Ready for its Closeup: The J.R. Clancy Collection

On many personal notes, this collection is cool. One, I was a theater nerd in high school and I’ll be honest, I never gave much thought to the stage rigging. This collection is changing things. Two, J.R. Clancy calls my hometown its hometown. So, I’ve enjoyed getting to work with this collection which is a very good thing because we’ll be working with it in the Digital Library Center (DLC) for a long time into the foreseeable future.

Details for Rear Wall Storage, J.R. Clancy Collection
Details for Rear Wall Storage, J.R. Clancy Collection

The J.R. Clancy stage rigging firm was established by stagehand John Clancy in Syracuse, New York, in 1885. The firm is known for innovating products and techniques for stage design including the Welch tension floor block, the automatic fire curtain, and automated stage rigging. The collection itself includes architectural and engineering drawings related to construction and renovation projects managed by the firm, including theatrical designs, drawings for standard parts, wiring diagrams, and standard assemblies for stage rigging systems. You can see the finding aid for the collection in Archon.

The collection here at Florida State University was acquired through the School of Theatre several years ago with the idea that the collection would be digitized in its entirety in the future. Due to the nature of materials, and the scope of the collection (numbering in the the tens of thousands of drawings!), we’ve been doing some major planning and thinking through the digitization project. The collection itself is still in processing which adds another challenge on top of the volume of it. So, for the moment, the collection is being digitized by patron request through the Clancy firm. The first batch of materials is now available online through this process. This set of drawings are for rigging components for the Centennial Concert Hall in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada which is getting ready for a renovation project and wanted the original rigging plans for their upcoming work.

As we add more to this collection, we’ll be sure to highlight it here on the blog. In the meantime, the collection does have a finding aid and is available upon request in the Special Collections Research Center Reading Room.

Digital Windover

Detail from Field Notebook at Windover, 1985
Detail from Field Notebook at Windover, 1985

In 1982, a construction crew started what was supposed to be a routine de-mucking of a small pond in preparation for road construction of Windover Way. It is located in east central Florida, about 16 miles inland from the Atlantic Ocean. However, in the course of the construction work, human remains were discovered. Once it was determined they were not of forensic interest, the construction company contacted Florida State University anthropology faculty to create a research proposal for the landowners.

What followed was three field seasons at Windover from 1984-86 that uncovered the remains of 168 individuals as well as other culturally significant objects from a mortuary pond dated from between 6000-5000 BC. Because of the peat and small pond nature of the site, not only skeletal material but also normally perishable organic artifacts were also discovered. Perhaps most interestingly, enough brain matter was recovered from some skulls to conduct DNA sequencing on the remains.

A partnership with the Department of Anthropology is bringing data from the Windover digs to DigiNole. We have loaded the first batch of materials which includes field notes and excavation forms from the digs. More field notes and forms will follow shortly. We’ve also working with Digital Support Services at the University of Florida to digitize x-rays of the bones found at Windover. Maps and digitized slides from the seasons will come at a later date as well.

The DLC has been excited to work on this project as it lets us continue to develop models for these sorts of “split” projects where digitization is happening both in the Department of Anthropology and the DLC, allowing each group to work in their area of expertise as well as splitting the work to move forward in a more efficient way.

For more information about the Windover site and the work done there, see Doran, G. H., & Thomas, G. P. (2015). Windover: an overview. Tagungen des landesmuseums fur vorgeschichte halle, 13, 1-19. To see the digital collection, visit DigiNole.

Le Moniteur Update

FSU_NAPDC1M51800_01_177_001
Detail from the Front Page of Gazette Nationale ou Le Moniteur Universel, March 17, 1801

Le Moniteur Universel was a French newspaper founded in Paris under the title Gazette Nationale ou Le Moniteur Universel by Charles-Joseph Panckoucke. It was the main French newspaper during the French Revolution and was for a long time the official journal of the French government and at times a propaganda publication, especially under the Napoleonic regime. Le Moniteur had a large circulation in France and Europe, and also in America during the French Revolution.

We’ve been steadily working on digitizing the run of Le Moniteur that we hold here in Special Collections and Archives for about a year now (how time flies!). We’ve provided access to the publication through the end of 1808 in the FSU Digital Library. Our run of these papers starts with the founding of the newspaper in May of 1789. So, we’ve loaded 20 years worth of the publication or over 7300 issues! We still have quite a long way to go but we’re happy to be providing online access to a publication that supports scholarship here at FSU through the Institute on Napoleon and the French Revolution as well as beyond our campus.

 

Giving an Omeka Site a New Home

Slizewski-Smith, Erika, “St. Peter's Anglican Church, Tallahassee, Florida,” Religion @ Florida State University, accessed February 7, 2017, http://religionatfsu.omeka.net/items/show/222.
Slizewski-Smith, Erika, “St. Peter’s Anglican Church, Tallahassee, Florida,” Religion @ Florida State University, accessed February 7, 2017, http://religionatfsu.omeka.net/items/show/222.

Special Collections & Archives maintains an Omeka instance mostly to be used with the Museum Objects classes that use our physical exhibit space periodically and also need to include a digital exhibit with their work. Our hope is that someday the FSU Digital Library will be able to handle the digital exhibit needs for these classes. However, for the moment, Omeka is our tool for this need.

We were approached a few months ago by a professor looking for a new home for his Omeka site that classes had used to collect information and share his student’s work from Religion classes at FSU. As these collections fit in well with the collecting areas of Special Collections & Archives, particularly as we expand our collections of local religion institutional records, this Omeka site was a good candidate for migration to the Special Collections Omeka instance.

Happily, Omeka provides a plug-in that allows for the migration of materials between Omeka instances to be a fairly painless process. The site has been migrated (mostly) successfully. A few lingering problems with video files is being working on by the professor and some Library IT staff. In the meantime, enjoy this new addition to the FSU Special Collections & Archives Omeka lineup, Religion @ Florida State University.

DLC in Review

It has been a busy year for the Digital Library Center! I wanted to take a moment to bask in our success.

We completed 7 planned digital projects which included:

We also started a long-term digitization project with Le Moniteur, a periodical from our Napoleonic collections.

DLC staff member digitizes a textile fragment.
DLC staff member digitizes a textile fragment.

Collaborative digitization projects were also started with the department of Art History, for which half of the John House Stereograph Collection is now available online, and with the department of Anthropology where we hope to have materials to share online soon!

 

All in all, we added 6,026 objects to the digital library this year which encompasses thousands and thousands of digitized book pages, letters, photographs and 3-D objects.

It has been a busy and rewarding year as we keep growing how many projects we can take on each year. We’re already working on new projects for next year so stay tuned for what comes next!

You’re a What? Digital Archivist Edition

Archives Month is when we shout from the rooftops about archives; what are they, what do they have and why you should care. Here at FSU Special Collections & Archives, we participate in #AskAnArchivist day and put together other activities as we are able each year. However, we deal with the most obvious question people could ask 365 days a year…what does an archivist do?

For me, that question is usually a double head scratcher because not only am I an archivist, I am a digital archivist. In my daily work, that is really broken down into three main areas of work: digital project management, digital library management and born-digital material management and preservation. All of which are still probably Greek to you so let me explain.

Digital Project Management

A screenshot of how we organize and track a project
A screenshot of how we organize and track a project

No one told me when I went to get my MSI that I should have probably worked on becoming a certified Project Manager too. Instead, I’ve had to learn by making lots of mistakes as digital projects come through the Digital Library Center. Unfortunately, we have not come up with a magic way to digitize materials and get them into the FSU Digital Library so a lot of planning and then work goes into any set of materials you may find online. I enjoy this part of my work (it’s the organizer in me) but it wasn’t exactly what I thought I was signing up for when I became a digital archivist.

Digital Library Management

Screenshot of the FSU Digital Library
The FSU Digital Library has grown fast since we moved into our new platform in February 2013.

The FSU Digital Library grows in leaps and bounds each year and a team of us work on making sure it grows within our standards and in a way that keeps it useful and relevant for our users. Once a digital project is started, a lot of my work goes into figuring out a user’s needs when interacting with said material. What collection does it belong in? How does it need to be searched? What display would best suit the materials?

Born-Digital Material Management and Preservation

Screenshot of a possible born-digital processing workflow
A look at the digital processing workflow we’re working on to start working on born digital collections we already have in-house

This is the part of the job I am still growing into and learning more about all the time. It’s the part of archives a lot of us don’t know what to think about yet. But, take this fact and stew on it: The Word document you created today is a let less stable than the letter someone wrote 100 years ago. We know how to preserve and protect the paper. The Word document? We’re still figuring that out. As FSU Libraries moves into deciding how we’ll process, provide access and preserve digital records (including web content), I’ll be sure to share more about that aspect of my work on the blog!

So, at the end of the day, I usually tell people that a digital archivist is someone who gets to live in the best of both worlds; I get to handle and work with the cool old “stuff” but also work with all the cool 21st century gadgets which help archives to make these items more accessible while also dealing with any other 21st century document problems the archives wants to throw at me. Bring it on!

#AskAnArchivist Day 2016 is Almost Here!

#AskAnArchivist Day 2016

On October 5, 2016, archivists around the country will take to Twitter to answer your questions about any and all things archives and FSU Special Collections & Archives will be there! This day-long event, sponsored by the Society of American Archivists, will give you the opportunity to connect directly with archivists here at FSU to ask about our work, our collections or really anything archival.

As professional experts who do the exciting work of protecting and sharing important historical materials here at FSU, we have many stories to share about the work we do every day in preserving fascinating documents, photographs, audio and visual materials, and artifacts. Increasingly, our work extends beyond the physical and includes digital materials such as the work done with the FSU Digital Library. #AskAnArchivist Day will give you a chance to connect with those of us in FSU Libraries who are tackling the challenges of preserving our digital heritage for the future.So, ask us anything and everything.

No question is too silly . . .

  • What’s the craziest thing you’ve come across in your collections?
  • If your archives had a soundtrack, what songs would be on it?
  • What do archivists talk about around the water cooler?

. . . and no question is too practical!

  • What should I do to be sure that my emails won’t get lost?
  • I’ve got loads of digital images on my phone. How should I store them so I can access them later on?
  • How do you decide which items to keep and which to weed out from a collection?
  • As a teacher, how can I get my students more interested in using archives for projects?

So, how does it work?

#AskAnArchivist Day is open to everyone—all you need is a Twitter account. To participate, just tweet a question to @FSULibrary between 10am and 3pm on October 5th and include the hashtag #AskAnArchivist in your tweet. Your question will be seen instantly by archivists here at FSU and around the country who will be standing by to respond directly to you. So if we’re not sure at FSU how to answer, we bet we can find someone who can! We also may not know every answer right away, but we’ll do some digging and get back to you ASAP. Even if you don’t have a question right away, we hope you’ll search Twitter for #AskAnArchivist and follow along as questions and answers are shared to get a better idea not just of what we do here at FSU Special Collections & Archives but what archivists are doing around the world.

See you in the Twitterverse on October 5th!

What is the most viewed object in the Digital Library?

We get asked this question a lot from people. Most are simply curious. However, to the staff of the FSU Digital Library (FSUDL), this is actually an important question. Understanding what our most viewed objects are can help us decide what materials to digitize and make public next for our users as well as understand where current research interests lie within the FSU community.

However, it’s not quite as simple as looking at Google analytics or the basic collection usages statistics that our digital library platform gives us. We’ve only had some of our statistic reporting tools in place for a short amount of time so what Google says is our most viewed collection doesn’t necessarily match what the Digital Library itself tells us. For example, Google says that our Yearbook collection is the most viewed collection in the Digital Library; our Digital Library tells us it’s the Heritage Protocol & University Archives collection, the Yearbook’s parent collection, that is most viewed. This shows the different granularity upon which the two systems collect information; one is looking at the entirety of the Digital Library; the other is looking only at a certain level at any given time. That difference is why we need both systems tracking together to get us the information we need to make decisions about projects moving forward in the FSUDL. It’s also helping us to continue to refine how we collect usage information from the FSUDL.

Page from the 1952 Tally Ho
Page from the 1952 Tally Ho

While the Digital Library platform might not be the best fit for tracking what collection is most viewed, it is the platform which can tell me the answer to the question that prompted this blog post: what is the most viewed object in the Digital Library? Right now, this still is not an easy question to answer (takes a bit of work to get it out of the DL system) but I can say that the Tally-Ho of 1952 (the FSU student yearbook) has been viewed 990 times since we started tracking at object level at the beginning of this year.

In second place is Paul Dirac’s dissertation with 755 views and rounding out the top 3 is a Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Bailey clown college (because who doesn’t love clowns?) In fact, this item is also in our top ten of exit pages meaning this object is often what people are looking for so they leave the FSUDL after finding it.

We’ll continually be working on tracking usage in the Digital Library to make sure the materials we share in the digital environment are the most useful and interesting to all our users. What do you think we should digitize next?

Visualizing an Invisible Machine

IMG_5554
View of the current exhibit on the digital library

For our current exhibit, What’s Past is Pixels, we faced a challenge. How do we represent our digital library in a physical space? To some extent, we could easily do so with pulling the physical objects we’ve digitized and talk about the challenges and decisions we made when translating them online. We could visualize the metadata created, highlight digital representations through screens and screenshots. What I could not wrap my head around, and what of course was on my list to figure out, was representing what the digital library was in some visual form…

As an exhibit planning group, we decided on the words representing the main functions of the digital library: discovery, scholarship and engagement. We also as a group decided on the raw ingredients that made those functions go: materials, community and system. My colleague working on the visualization with me originally suggested some sort of web visual, which would show the interconnectedness of the ingredients and functions. However, while that solved one problem (showing how the digital library works), it didn’t quite show how it worked in the bigger context of DigiNole, the platform that also held the Research Repository.

I kept playing around with the idea of engines, which eventually led me to the final graphic of cogs and functionality as the motion moving the cogs. The digital library was only one engine of DigiNole so the Research Repository could be represented as a part of the greater machine in which the digital library moved. From there, I assigned each ingredient to a cog of the machine and then named the movements after the different functionality we wanted to highlight. It was clean, simple and did its job in illustrating a highly conceptual idea in a straightforward manner for the exhibit without lots of text and using vocabulary that our intended audience (non-librarians) wouldn’t understand. Hopefully it succeeded!

The finished visual to explain how the digital library works
The finished visual to explain how the digital library works

What’s Past is Pixels: Developing the FSU Digital Library is located in the Strozier Library Exhibit Room and is open 10am to 6pm, Monday through Thursday, 10am to 5:30pm Friday. It will be held until April 8, 2016.