Tag Archives: digital collections

Documenting the Holocaust

This is a guest post from Julianna Witt, who is an archival assistant at the Jacob Marcus Rader Center of the American Jewish Archives in Cincinnati, Ohio. She graduated from FSU in 2018 with a Bachelor’s of Arts in History and will be attending University of Illinois for a Master’s in Information Science in Fall 2019. Julianna worked on this project while at FSU’s Institute on World War II and the Human Experience.

Buchenwald Survivors Showing their Tattoos
Buchenwald Survivors Showing their Tattoos [original item]

This collection of photographs captures the atrocities American GI’s witnessed when they liberated and toured the various extermination and concentration camps in Europe following the end of World War II. When they discovered these camps, the American military officials ordered all nearby units to visit and tour the complexes. Some of the soldiers had cameras with them and took photographs of what they saw to send back home. While most of the photographs are from ordinary soldiers, some came from licensed military photographers. These photographs were digitized to spread awareness of what happened less than a hundred years ago in a war that many individuals have relatives that participated in. While many individuals have heard of the Holocaust and know the common terms such as “Auschwitz” and “genocide,” not all have seen the graphic photographs. 

      Never Again. One of the most well-known sayings that was created in response to the Holocaust urges humanity to help prevent genocides worldwide by spreading awareness and advocates for action in order to stop mass murder and violence before it erupts. These photographs serve as reminders of what can occur when fascism takes control. While these photographs are very graphic, they need to be available to view. If not, the remaining items are not telling the full story of what happened and thus could spread misinformation of the events. Even today with all the evidence of the Holocaust, there are still Holocaust deniers who wish to prove the Holocaust was just propaganda. The hope of this project is to spread knowledge of what happened and to give many more examples of how this did occur.

You can explore this collection in DigiNole: FSU’s Digital Repository. Please be aware this collection does contain very graphic imagery and may not be appropriate for some audiences. You can explore other collections from the Institute on World War II and the Human Experience at DigiNole here as well.

Looking back at High School in Tallahassee 1957-1987

Since September of last year, FSU Libraries has partnered with Leon High School, Florida’s oldest continually accredited high school, to digitize their school yearbooks and newspaper and provide access to those materials through the FSU Digital Library. This has been a rewarding community partnership for the Digital Library Center and Special Collections & Archives here at FSU as it has allowed us to work closely with members of the Tallahassee community and also given those of us working on the project, many not Tallahassee natives, a unique view into the life of high schoolers in our city starting in the 1920s.

A page spread from the May 15, 1981, Leon High Life. View entire issue here

A new batch of Leon High School (LHS) newspapers was just loaded into the FSU Digital Library. This set spans from 1957 to 1987 during which our area, and the world, saw a massive amount of growth and change, especially technological change. The 1950s issues sport ads for film-based cameras, record shops, and lunch counter drug stores. Fast forward to the 1980s where cassette tapes, college radio, and computers all enter the high school parlance. Not to mention the cultural and social changes these issues record from the point of view of a high schooler. It is a truly fascinating way to look at the history of Tallahassee, Florida and beyond.

You can browse all the LHS newspaper issues here and look at the entire LHS collection here which includes 80 editions of their yearbook, The Lion’s Tale.

Digitizing Leon High School Newspapers

In collaboration with Leon High School, we just finished digitizing the first batch of their newspapers which date from 1920-1956. As with most collaborative efforts, this was a multi-step process involving several parties and today we’re going to briefly discuss the digitization portion of this project. The goal is to have the entire Leon High Newspaper Collection digitized, loaded into DigiNole and made accessible to the community.

The first step in the process was to take a glance at what we were working with and to prep the papers for digitization. The newspapers were picked up from Leon High and delivered to Strozier Library neatly sorted and grouped by decade, with most stored in protective mylar. Considering their age, the papers themselves were in decent condition and they arrived stored in several large archival boxes.

Sorting Leon High Newspapers

Sorting Leon High Newspapers
Sorting through the Leon High Newspapers

The plan was to efficiently digitize these objects using multiple pieces of equipment at once; larger issues would be digitized with our overhead reprographic camera set up while the smaller ones would be scanned on our Epson 11000XL flatbed scanners.

In order to get started, we sorted the newspapers by size and had them distributed to their respective scanning stations. This allowed us to save time by not having to manually refocus and position our overhead IQ180 camera each time a different-sized newspaper was encountered. Leaving the camera in one position allowed for faster capture time and guaranteed each photo would be captured at the specified resolution.

IQ180 Camera Setup
IQ180 camera aiming down at a Leon High Newspaper

When photographing this sort of material, it’s important to reduce as much depth as possible. Peaks and valleys caused by folds or creases in the objects can sometimes cause problems when trying to achieve evenly-sharp focus throughout the frame. Thankfully, most of the newspapers from this first batch laid relatively flat without too many folds or bumps.

We were able to flatten the few troublesome papers by carefully utilizing a set of custom-sized glass plates. By lowering the angles of the lights and by using low-glare glass, we were able to prevent any unwanted reflections from showing up in the final images.

These problems typically don’t occur when using flatbed scanners since closing the lid does a good job of flattening most objects. The scanners also allow for even lighting across the entire object without the risk of unwanted reflections, especially with non-glossy material such as these newspapers.

Epson 11000XL
Epson 11000XL getting ready to scan

Images from the flatbed scanner were cropped and saved to our servers directly from the VueScan software while images captured with our camera setup were edited and processed with Capture One CH.

Capture One CH Software
Typical Capture One CH session

While both pieces of software are quite powerful, they both have very different features. We primarily use VueScan as a scanning/processing software, while Capture One has the added bonus of offering file management and batch processing features as well as powerful capture tools. This allows us to quickly capture hundreds of photos consecutively and apply a set of edits/crops to the entire project at once. Capture One CH also offers specialized auto-crop and batch-crop features, which can be a massive time saver.

Once the images are all processed and saved onto our servers, they move onto final steps which include quality control, metadata creation, and loading of the images into DigiNole. Once the project has been safely uploaded, we will be ready to start all over with the second batch of newspapers! These newspapers will become part of the Leon High School Collection where we already have a full set of yearbooks for our users to browse.

We are ready to start digitizing the second batch of Leon High Newspapers after the holiday break, so keep an eye out for them to show up in Diginole later in 2019!

Girl’s Own Paper

This post is part of our series celebrating American Archives Month. Last week, Special Collections & Archives did a Twitter Takeover of the @fsulibraries feed for #AskAnArchivist day so be sure to check out those conversations. 

The Digital Library Center has been busy loading material into DigiNole, and one of the most recent additions is the Girl’s Own Paper. Written for young girls and women and published in the United Kingdom from 1880 to the 1950s, the primary content of these papers consist of educational articles, fashion advice editorials, poetry, and fictional stories. 

Though hundreds of years old, much of the content found in this collection is still relevant today. The theory and instructional methods for learning guitar, for example, haven’t changed much after all these years. Each issue also includes beautiful illustrations to accompany the textual content as seen in the lesson below.

Page from The Girl's Own Paper Volume 2, Issue 61. February 26, 1881 [See original object]
Page from The Girl’s Own Paper Volume 2, Issue 61. February 26, 1881 [See original object]
Several volumes have already been added to DigiNole and more will be uploaded until the collection is complete. The existing issues of Girl’s Own Annual and Girl’s Own Paper can be found here.

We are working hard to get the entire collection uploaded for users to access and are still early in the process of digitizing this set of material. To reduce the strain on our internal storage servers, this collection is being digitized at about 4 volumes per batch. Once a batch is successfully uploaded, we purge those images from our servers to make room for new images and we then start working on the next set of volumes.

We’ve got a long way to go, so check back often to see what new material we’re adding to this charming collection!

The Bulletins of Tallahassee’s First Baptist Church

Through an ongoing collaboration with The First Baptist Church of Tallahassee, we have been working to digitize and share all of the church’s published bulletins from the 1930s through today. This collaboration is one of several FSU Libraries’ projects aimed at bringing community collections online.

The First Baptist Church’s bulletins typically consist of community updates, upcoming events, Sunday programs, and other information centered around the congregation. Each pamphlet contains photos and unique illustrations related to the events occurring at the time.

Page from The Voice of the First Baptist Church Volume 21. Number 19, October 23rd, 1986
Page from The Voice of the First Baptist Church Volume 21. Number 19, October 23rd, 1986 [See original object]
As we continue adding more material to this collection in DigiNole, visitors can gain a better understanding of what life was like in Tallahassee from the perspective of the church. The first three batches of bulletins up to 1989 are now available while those printed in the 1990s will be uploaded next month.

The bulletins are just one phase of this collaboration with The First Baptist Church of Tallahassee, so keep an eye out for future updates to see what’s coming up next.

Studying the birds after a war

Our partnership with the Institute on World War II and the Human Experience has introduced me to some of the most interesting people of the Greatest Generation. I added a new one to my list this week as I loaded a set of photographs from Dr. Oliver L. Austin Jr. Students working for Dr. Annika A. Culver digitized this small set of images from the collection earlier this year for a museum in Japan. A student described them over this summer and now they are available in DigiNole (and later this year, will be available in DPLA).

Nihonbashi Takashimaya Department Store
Nihonbashi Takashimaya Department Store, 1946-1949 [original record]
Dr. Austin sounds like he was always up for an adventure. In 1931, he received Harvard University’s first Ph.D. Degree in Ornithology. As a seasoned sailor whose family owned a summer home on Cape Cod, Austin felt that he could be of service to the US Navy, and volunteered for sea duty in World War II, a somewhat unpopular posting prior to the Battle of Midway when the Japanese were still a formidable presence in the western Pacific Ocean. In 1942, when he was 39 years old, he went to naval headquarters in Boston and received his orders in late July. After three months of communications school, he was assigned to the USS Tryon, an evacuation transport, or armed hospital ship, headed for an embattled contingent of Marines in New Caledonia. Deck service was followed by duty in Admiral Bull Halsey’s communication pool and as communications officer on a gas tanker to forward bases. While in dock, he collected over 2,000 bird and bat specimens in “no man’s land” of the Pacific Theater’s roughest battles, including Tulagi and Bougainville, and even discovered two new bat species in Guadalcanal. After two years in the Navy and earning Lieutenant Commander rank, Austin was transferred to “military government school” at Princeton University to prepare him for service in the future occupations of Korea and Japan.

Dr. Oliver Austin
Dr. Oliver Austin, 1945-1952 [original record]
Dr. Austin headed the Wildlife Branch of the Fisheries Division in the Natural Resources Section (NRS) for Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers (SCAP) from September 4, 1946 to December 31, 1949. He was honored as one of only two members of the US Occupation of Japan who received a personal commendation for meritorious civilian service by General Douglas MacArthur. Austin implemented reforms of game laws and created wildlife sanctuaries as well as public hunting grounds to help conserve and manage Japan’s wildlife and natural resources. During his nearly four years in Japan, Austin left behind almost 1,000 well-preserved color photographic slides of postwar Japan under reconstruction. Highlights include American expatriate life, ordinary Japanese families in Tokyo and the countryside, and Japanese veterans purveying street entertainments. These sorts of images are included in the materials now available in DigiNole.

Later, in 1955 and 1956, Dr. Austin was invited to work as an Air Force scientific observer on the US Navy’s first Operation Deep Freeze, a preparatory expedition for the International Geophysical Year. In addition to his work on the expedition, Austin conducted research on Adelie and emperor penguins, skua, and seals, implementing a bird-banding project for his ornithological work.

More images from this collection are available through a project hosted by the WWII Institute and hopefully we’ll add more into DigiNole in the future.

Digitizing the Castro Archaeological Site

In a recent collaboration with the Department of Anthropology, FSU’s Digital Library Center has digitized thousands of objects including photos, field notes, and other fascinating material produced during 2000-2002 of the Castro archaeological site located right here in Leon County, Florida.

The Castro site was one of many Franciscan missions found in Northwest Florida. Established by Spain in 1663, these missions were built on Apalachee homelands and functioned until they were destroyed in the early 1700s by Anglo-Creek military forces from the Carolina colony. These sites were eventually abandoned by the Apalachees and indigenous peoples, and evidence of their existence was buried over time by natural processes.  

Guided by FSU Anthropology Professor Dr. Rochelle Marrinan, students in the Field School surveyed and excavated the Castro site to analyze its settlement pattern and layout with an emphasis on its church complex. In both Anthropological Fieldwork courses, ANT4824, and ANG5824, the students learned and practiced basic survey, excavation, preparation, and analysis of cultural materials.

Students carefully excavating a portion of the Castro site
Students carefully excavating a portion of the Castro site. [See original object]
 

Using a combination of flatbed scanning and photographic techniques, the Digital Library Center digitized the wide range of material from this project. Included in the Castro Archaeological Site Collection are photographs, video, topographic maps of the site, detailed hand-written notes by each student, and other administrative and analysis documents. The findings of these hard-working teams are now publicly available in DigiNole and can be found here.

Page of student field notes from the Castro site.
Page of student field notes from the Castro site. [See original object]
Digitizing the Castro site material isn’t the first time the DLC has collaborated with FSU’s Department of Anthropology. The Windover Archaeological Site Collection in DigiNole details the digs of an Early Archaic site near what is now Titusville, Florida. Unearthing the secrets of Florida’s rich and complex history is a fascinating experience and we look forward to our next collaboration with the Anthropology Department.

Working amongst History

Today we have a guest post from Brianna McLean, a student employee for Special Collections & Archives over the past summer.

Like most undergraduate students at FSU, the FSU Libraries have always been a place to study, research, read, and hang out with friends.  When I first came to FSU, I did not know about the many career opportunities libraries could offer. After working two years at the Institute on World War II and the Human Experience in the History Department, I had a wonderful opportunity to work in the Digital Library Center (DLC) in Special Collections this summer.  Not only did I gain valuable experience, I worked closely with some of the best library professionals learning metadata, digitization, and cataloging processes.

FSU_HPUA2016003_S1_F7_008
West Florida Seminary Students Doing Fieldwork in Surveying and Engineering, 1900

As someone who recently graduated with a history degree, I have a lot of experience researching and working with primary sources. Working in the DLC and Special Collections, I was able to be part of the process of preparing primary sources for researchers. When you create metadata and inventory items, you have to think of the things a researcher might be looking for, enhancing your own research skills. Historical preservation and cataloging is the whole other side of research that is crucial to education and the availability of information. I would urge all students to become familiar with Special Collections (fsuarchon.fcla.edu/) on the first floor of Strozier and the digital library, Diginole (fsu.digital.flvc.org).

FSU_HPUA2016003_S1_F103_006
Coeds With Raincoats on in the Sunshine, 1962

Working in Special Collections is not just exciting because of the research experience; it was incredible to be able to work with all the books, photographs, documents, and artifacts. FSU’s Special Collections has everything from cuneiform tablets to comic books. One of my favorite projects in the DLC was working with the FSU Historical Photograph Collection and the Tarpon Club Videos. FSU has such a rich history and Special Collections contains endless information from the beginning when FSU was the West Florida Seminary to the more recent history of our campus. I have included some of my favorite photographs with this blog post.

The first image is of West Florida Seminary students in 1900 surveying in front of the original administration building, which is now the Westcott Building. The second image is from 1962 when women were still prohibited to wear pants on campus, so they circumvented the rule by wearing open raincoats over their shorts. The final one is unfortunately undated, but it is of the Westcott Building before the iconic fountain was installed. These photos are perfect examples of why I love working in archives. Being a historian, I enjoy research and telling the stories of humanity. However, there is something incredibly special about being able to hold and see the items for yourself, as well as preserving them for many more people to have the same opportunity.

Westcott Building
Taken with my phone. This image is part of the FSU Historical Photographs Collection.

Brianna McLean recently graduated with her B.A. in History, minor in French from FSU. She is continuing her education this fall at FSU, beginning her M.A. in History, studying the French Revolution and Napoleonic France. Brianna is excited to continue working with FSU Libraries in the Heritage Museum this fall.

Another season of sport at FSU begins

Cover from the media guide for Swimming & Diving, 2009-2010
Cover from the media guide for Swimming & Diving, 2009-2010. [See original object]
FSU is gearing up for another semester to start in just a few weeks. Student-athletes, however, are already back at work. The FSU Volleyball team will play its first match this Friday and the Swimming and Diving teams are back in action by mid-September. These two sports are the last of a long project for the Digital Library Center, the digitization of all the sports media guides for FSU teams that the Archives currently holds.

The sports media guide is essentially the press kit for that season’s team. It includes all the facts and figures announcers seem to effortlessly sprout out as you listen to commentary at sporting events. The Swimming/Diving Team media guides go back to the 1970s whereas the Volleyball guides start in the 1980s. Do you have media guides to help fill in the blanks in our collection? You can always donate to Heritage & University Archives to help complete the collection. Start the conversation by sending an email to lib-specialcollections@fsu.edu.

Browse all the available sports media guides in Heritage & University Archives in DigiNole and Go Noles as all our fall sports teams get back in action over the next few weeks!

Recording Destruction

The Digital Library Center has been working with the FSU Department of Anthropology for several years now to digitize the materials created at the Windover dig site. We’re nearing the light at the end of the tunnel! However, as I loaded the last of the unit excavation forms, I realized something. I had absolutely no idea what these forms were! So, I sent off an email to Dr. Geoffrey Thomas for some clarification.

To start with, and something that I have never really thought about is that Archeology, the act of excavating, is an act of destruction. If they’re doing their jobs right, at the end of the dig, the site no longer exists. So, the hundreds of forms (For the Windover dig, over 600!), called Unit Excavation Forms, are used to record exactly what the archeologists were seeing as they dug the site. The site itself is divided into squares on a grid with each square having specific coordinates within the grid. Each form then corresponds to a specific square, or as they are called, unit.

Per Dr. Thomas, Unit Excavation forms’ primary role then, is to record the process of removal, layer by layer in each unit. Each form is labeled with information like the site name/number, the coordinates of the unit, the unit number that corresponds with a location on the grid, people working on that unit, and the level (depth) of the excavation. The workers then excavate in 10cm levels (ground – 10cm below surface = level 1) and so on to 90-100 cms = level 10. Each and every artifact is recorded as it is found and the workers make sure to mark the location within the unit, depth, and type of artifacts discovered. So, the unit forms and each level gets a form, then tell us what was found and where.

A Unit Excavation Form from Lot No. 1 at Windover during the 1984 season
A Unit Excavation Form from Lot No. 1 at Windover during the 1984 season [see all forms from Lot No. 1]
You stop digging in a unit when you hit a “sterile” layer, or after you have not hit new artifacts for a few levels. You then close that unit and start on a new one. After completion of a dig, the Unit Excavation Forms can be used to reconstruct each unit so that future researchers know where certain artifacts were found and in what context they belong within the dig site.

Pretty cool right? I also asked Dr. Thomas to think about what people will be able to learn now that these forms are online. Having the forms for the Windover dig online allows researchers and people interested in archaeology to gain information on, not only the process of archaeology but the specifics of the Windover site. If someone is interested in a particular burial and would like to find out the context of the burial (for example individual 90,  a subadult with a large number of grave goods), Dr. Thomas, or the patron themselves, could look up burial 90 and have the excavation forms for that unit. This will allow Dr. Thomas and the researcher to see the position of the body and locations of each artifact in the burial, along with any pictures of the burial site if any exist. This will hopefully greatly increase the amount of interpretive power we have for examining the remains and the way they were treated at death.

Now that we know what they are, enjoy browsing through and getting a picture of the Windover site from the unit excavation forms. You will also find field notes and photographs as part of the larger Windover collection. Happy “digging”!

Note: We are in the process of digitizing and loading x-rays and photographs of burials at the Windover site. However, due to the nature of that material and NAGPRA guidelines, those materials will be in collections with restricted access. Look soon for instructions on how to apply to use these types of materials for research in DigiNole.