All posts by Krystal Thomas

About Krystal Thomas

Digital Archivist at Florida State University

Flambeau at your fingertips

Florida Flambeau, January 5, 1994
Front Page of the Flambeau following the 1994 Seminole football win at the Orange Bowl

It has been a long time coming to get to this point but I’m happy to announce that we have finally cataloged and completed the upload of the FSU newspaper, Florida Flambeau from 1915 to 1996. This was a massive undertaking for the Digital Library Center and we didn’t even do the scanning! Digitization of these materials was done from microfilm five years ago. The DLC staff did image clean-up and quality control and then students took over creating metadata for every single issue (easily over 10,000 issues for the 80 year period!). Kudos to all the staff and students who have worked on this project.

The Flambeau provides a fascinating look at not only the college community and its culture over these years but what was happening in and around the great Tallahassee area. Being in the capital city of the state, the Flambeau reports on state and national politics often as well as providing insight into how the college was interacting with the rest of the world. It reports on the funny moments (easily one of our most popular issue reports on streakers in 1974) to how the campus handled tragedies (an article on the Challenger tragedy in 1984 notes how hard hit teachers at FSU felt).

The added bonus of having these online? They are now fully text-searchable. Have a relative who attended, taught or worked at FSU? See if you can find their name! To best way to search all the text is to click on the Advanced Search link at the top right of the page and then make sure Search all (metadata + full text) is selected.

We’ll be looking into adding the issues starting in 1997 soon but how now, happy searching!

Finishing up the “Shoebox Papers” of Dirac

The following is the second of two posts from Dr. Kathy Clark, a professor here at FSU in the College of Education. You may see the first post here. For the past several years, she’s been involved in the digitization and description of a set of papers in the Dirac Collection that are known collectively as the “shoebox” papers. These materials are available online and will shortly benefit from enhanced description from Dr. Clark.

I should say that the “we” in this case are an incredibly bright and talented young man, Emmet Harrington, and myself. Emmet was an undergraduate honors student, who selected my project as part of the Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program (UROP) at FSU. Although his UROP commitment was only one year, Emmet continued on the project for a second year, and his work was funded by the HOMSIGMAA grant. Emmet graduated from FSU in May 2016, with a bachelor’s degree in Mathematics. He began the Ph.D. in mathematics program at Michigan State University in Fall 2016. Emmet’s work on the “shoebox papers” project was invaluable, and he was responsible for three key aspects of the project work.

Using substitutions to simplify polynomial equations
Using substitutions to simplify polynomial equations. From the “Shoebox Papers.”

In particular, Emmet first reviewed the scans of the original items that I identified in 2012 for their mathematical content, and this was necessary work for metadata entry. Emmet also selected interesting problems, which we would ultimately highlight and discuss during a workshop as part of the Seventh European Summer University in Copenhagen in 2014. Finally, Emmet spent a great deal of time cropping images from the original images (of the “shoebox papers” that I selected in 2012), for the purpose of focusing on particular aspects of Dirac’s mathematical doodlings found in the “shoebox papers.” We felt this was an intriguing first project for the purpose of highlighting one aspect of the Dirac Papers at FSU. For example, because of Dirac’s reputation as a Nobel prize-winning physicist, we purposefully investigated the collection for examples of pure mathematics, since Dirac first began his academic life in the field of mathematics.

Finally, Emmet and I submitted a short paper to the BSHM Bulletin: Journal of the British Society of the History of Mathematics, in which we tell the story of our work together, and in which we highlight examples from our investigation into the “shoebox papers” (Clark & Harrington, 2016).

In closing, I want to publicly express my appreciation to HOMSIGMAA’s interest in the Dirac Papers at FSU. I greatly appreciate Dr. Amy Shell-Gellasch’s encouragement to me to seek funding for this project, and for assisting me over the years as we’ve tried to accomplish what we set out to do. I am also supremely appreciative of the assistance and encouragement of Dean Julia Zimmerman, Associate Dean Katie McCormick, Digital Archivist Krystal Thomas, and Studio Manager Stuart Rochford, all of the FSU Libraries. Without them, this work would not have been possible. I am especially grateful for their patience with me, as they have waited a very long time for me to finish my part of this work so that it can be shared with the world.

References

Clark, K. M., & Harrington, E. P. (2016). The Paul A M Dirac papers at Florida State University: A search for informal mathematical investigations. British Society for the History of Mathematics Bulletin, 31(3), 205-214.

The “Shoebox” papers of Paul A.M. Dirac

The following is the first of two posts from Dr. Kathy Clark, a professor here at FSU in the College of Education. For the past several years, she’s been involved in the digitization and description of a set of papers in the Dirac Collection that are known collectively as the “shoebox” papers. These materials are available online and will shortly benefit from enhanced description from Dr. Clark.

In early 2012 I was curious what sort of materials were available in the Dirac Papers held at Florida State University (FSU), and began to page through various boxes and folders of the different series. I tried to narrow my initial search a bit by looking for mathematical papers, problems, calculations, and the like. And, after many months of visiting the Special Collections & Archives, I settled upon a deeper investigation into what was noted as “shoebox papers.”

Listing permutations of five elements chosen from five
An example from the “Shoebox Papers”

The “shoebox papers” were apparently just that: accumulated – yet mostly unsorted – pages or scraps of paper that contained some form of mathematical doodling (as we have referred to previously in Clark and Harrington, 2015). The initial intent of our work with the “shoebox papers” was two-fold: we wanted to investigate mathematical problems and concepts that were present in the papers, and we were interested in sharing a small part of the Dirac Papers with scholars and researchers who may have an interest in the collection. The project that was generously funded by the History of Mathematics Special Interest Group of the Mathematical Association of America (HOMSIGMAA) in 2013 and 2014 had several components, and this short communication provides a brief overview of the project work.

The funds provided by HOMSIGMAA were used for both preservation and digitization project work. At the same time that I began investigating the Dirac Papers collection, FSU Libraries were in the process of redesigning and launching a more comprehensive digital library platform. In doing so, FSU digital archivists, librarians, and administrators sought to highlight several of the library’s more interesting, and in many ways, precious holdings. Thus, scanning materials in order to digitally archive them was a priority. One of the collections needing such digital preservation were the Dirac Papers; however, the collection is quite extensive, and beginning with a project to highlight particular specimens (of mathematical interest) also coincided with the work that we had begun in Fall 2013.

In the next post, Dr, Clark will look at the work of her talented student assistant and what they accomplished with the digitized versions of the “shoebox” papers.

References

Clark, K., & Harrington, E. (2015). Deciphering the doodlings of the “shoebox collection” of the Paul A. M. Dirac papers. In E. Barbin, U. T. Jankvist, & T. H. Kjeldsen (Eds.), Seventh European Summer University on the History and Epistemology in Mathematics Education (ESU-7) (pp. 735-744). Copenhagen, Denmark: Danish School of Education, Aarhus 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!