Everyone enters a field of work for one reason or another. For me, pursuing a Masters of Library and Information Studies began from a desire to be an archivist, a type of information professional that is largely underrated, misunderstood, or even unheard of by the public. The mystery regarding the profession drew me in initially. Popular culture depicts archives as dark and secluded repositories with strict access restrictions guarded by a gatekeeper, hesitant to divulge any of the archives’ secrets. Think of the less-than-helpful associate in the Jedi Archives who turns Obi-Wan away in Star Wars Episode II; she might as well have shushed him while she was at it!
The reality of archives is quite the opposite. In all of my experiences, archivists are more than happy to help you in your research and want to share the collections as much as possible with the public. That’s why they collect it all. In order to do so, however, they must establish order.
In a job where creating order out of disorder is a top priority, the profession tends to attract many an OCD history buff. There’s something viscerally satisfying about organizing a dusty old mess of papers into a neat collection of documents in acid-free folders, legibly labeled for ready accessibility.
Many steps go into creating this order, however. After gaining legal custody of the documents, the archivist has to “gain intellectual control,” which is a sophisticated way of saying “learn exactly what kind of stuff is in the collection.” In order to do this, one must comb through the contents, which could take a very long time depending on how many linear feet the collection is, and create an inventory. The collection I’ve been “gaining intellectual control” of is called the Douglas and Jeannette Windham Papers, which contains the papers and publications of Douglas and Jeannette Windham, a distinguished FSU alumni couple. I’ve listed the materials that are in the collection, including personal papers, correspondence, academic articles, photographs, and professional reports. Once intellectual control is established, I can work with the archivist to determine a plan for order and begin to folder the contents into acid-free folders. A.K.A. the fun part! The kind of fun that is on par with labeling the shelves of your pantry, or color-coding your closet. (Yes, this is how I live).
The ordering continues when the boxes are stored in the stacks which are kept under strict environmental regulations in order to best preserve the archival materials from accelerated deterioration. The last step of creating order in the archives is to write the online finding aid so potential researchers can get an understanding of what is in the collection. This helps the collections get used more, which is, after all, the whole point in the first place! And there you have it: archives de-mystified.
There’s nothing like getting up-close and hands-on with some of the rare books in FSU’s Special Collections department, but sometimes it’s not possible for visitors to visit our Reading Room in Tallahassee to see them. Digitization allows us to make our materials available to a global audience who would otherwise never be able to interact with or use our collections.
To help alleviate this problem, the Digital Library Center (DLC) has been hard to expand access to some of our most important collections. We have digitized thousands of pages of our rare books and uploaded them for the public to access at their convenience. Digital reproductions of these books can be viewed in FSU’s Digital Libraryas individual pages or with the animated book viewer.
Ever wonder how these collections end up in the Digital Library? Turning books into ebooks is a complicated, but exciting process. So, the burning question is:
How do we get from this…
Typically our Digital Archivist has a queue of projects lined up for us which range from quick scans of reference material to digitizing vast collections of rare books and manuscripts. Once a project is decided upon, the material makes its way up the production studio where the imaging work is done.
Creating these images using a conventional flatbed scanner is not ideal due to the fragile condition of many of our rare books. Also, many books we digitize in the DLC have tight binding that would be nearly impossible to accurately scan without compromising the integrity of the books themselves. Improper scanning practices can lead to poor image quality and potential damage to the books.
In this case, as it is with most rare books, we’ll head over to our ATIZ BookDrive Pro station to start our work.
As you can see, this setup is specifically designed for book digitization. The V-shaped, adjustable book cradle and platen gently hold the book in place while dual Canon 5D Mark ii DSLR cameras photograph the left and right pages. Freedom to vertically and horizontally adjust the cradle and platen allows us to get the pages nice and flat before shooting, all without putting too much pressure on the book.
Each camera is tethered to the computer via USB and, as they fire, the digital images are automatically loaded into our processing software, Capture One 8 Pro. This powerful piece of software handles the file-management, editing, and exporting of the final image files. Within Capture One we can make any necessary color/exposure corrections, cropping adjustments, sharpening and QC work.
Once all the images are edited and double-checked for errors, they are exported as high-resolution TIF files and are ready for the next step: metadata!
Here in the studio we primarily focus on image production, however we do create basic metadata for certain items. In order for these images to recreate a traditional book-reading, page-turning experience within the Digital Library, we need to provide some basic information about this book’s contents. Some of the metadata we create for digitized books includes the front cover, page numbers, title page, table of contents, back cover, etc… Essentially, we are connecting each image file to its corresponding location in the actual book. This information, along with the more complex metadata entered later by our Metadata Librarian allows the book to be virtually perused and navigated with ease.
By using the Internet Archive’sbook viewer within our Digital Library, the individual pages we scanned and edited earlier can be turned back and forth, from cover to cover. This animated display of the full book is designed to give users the next-best experience to actually thumbing through our rare books in the Research Center Reading Room.
So there you have it! That’s our basic workflow from book to ebook. We’ll continue adding more interesting content to the Digital Library, so keep checking back to see what we have to offer. At the moment we’re deep in the middle of scanning a large collection of cookbooks and herbals dating all the way back to the 1400s. There are some fascinating recipes in these books and we can’t wait to share them with you!
One of the most important things I’ve learned as a Library and Information Studies student is how to navigate the lingo of the profession, which includes a dizzying array of acronyms. If it all starts to look like a bowl full of alphabet soup, here’s a (certainly nowhere near exhaustive) list of a few acronyms you can you use next time you want to impress a librarian!
AACR2 – Anglo-American Cataloging Rules, 2nd ed. – National standards for cataloging rules first published in 1967 and now succeeded by Resource Description and Access (RDA).
ACRL – Association of College & Research Libraries – The largest division of the American Library Association (ALA), comprised of academic librarians from institutions like Florida State University Libraries.
CCO – Cataloging Cultural Objects – Guidelines for cataloging cultural objects, such as works of art, architecture, and historical artifacts.
DACS – Describing Archives: A Content Standard – The content standard used for describing archival collections, which expands upon AACR2 but provides additional guidelines for describing unpublished materials, such as personal papers and manuscript collections.
DC – Dublin Core – A set of vocabulary terms, originally based on a set of 15 elements (Title, Creator, Subject, Description, Publisher, Contributor, Date, Type, Format Identifier, Source, Language, Relation, Coverage, and Rights), that can be used to describe resources such as webpages and digital images. It is a very simple framework, but it can be combined with other metadata standards to control vocabularies. Dublin Core standards were applied to items in the digital exhibit That I May Remember: the Scrapbooks of Florida State College for Women (1905-1947). Shown at right, an image is described using the Title, Subject, and Description elements.
EAD – Encoded Archival Description – A markup schema which allows us to encode DACS descriptions and make them appear as nice, neat, human-readable web documents on the Finding Aid Database.
FRBR – Functional Requirements for Bibliographic Records – A conceptual model that seeks to help users make sense of bibliographic records by defining relationships between entities. For example, if a patron is looking for a signed edition of Darwin’s Origin of Species, FRBR recognizes a hierarchal relationship between the work (the abstract vision of the work created in Darwin’s head), the expression (Darwin’s vision expressed in words), the manifestation (Darwin’s words published in a specific form – a book), and the item (the unique signed edition of Origin of Species held by FSU Special Collections & Archives) that the patron is searching for.
GIS – Geographic Information System – A system for analyzing, manipulating, and displaying geographic data that offers exciting possibilities for aiding access to library collections.
HTML – HyperText Markup Language – the language that provides structure to web pages.
ILS – Integrated Library System – The data management system that seeks to integrate all the different functions of the library.
ISBN – International Standard Book Number – A unique identification number given to every edition of a book.
ISSN – International Standard Serial Number – A unique identification number given to periodical publications.
LCSH – Library of Congress Subject Headings – A controlled vocabulary for subject headings created by the Library of Congress.
MARC – Machine-Readable Cataloging – A standard for encoding metadata that was developed in the 1960s as libraries made the transition from card catalogues to computers. MARC records use a system of data fields with alphanumeric tags, indicators, and subfield codes to create bibliographic descriptions. Seen without the help of the OPAC’s display interface, a MARC record might be mistaken by the untrained eye for the opening credits of a Keanu Reeves movie (as seen above left).
MODS – Metadata Object Description Schema – A metadata schema that is more complex than Dublin Core but simpler than MARC. It uses language-based tags (i.e. titleInfo, language, relatedItem) that are much more intuitive to understand than the MARC data fields seen above.
NLP – Natural Language Processing – a method of computer processing that seeks to improve information retrieval by studying the nuances of language in free text searches. Instead of searching by keywords, NLP seeks to understand the semantics of what a searcher is really asking for.
OCLC – Online Computer Library Center – The largest bibliographic network in the world, which links databases of records from libraries all across the world.
OPAC – Online Public Access Catalog – When you perform a catalog search at lib.fsu.edu, you are harnessing the power of the OPAC.
RDA – Resource Description and Access – As of 2010, the successor of AACR2. A standard for cataloging based on FRBR.
TEI – Text Encoding Intiative – A schema that provides guidelines for encoding texts for use in digital humanities.
XML – eXtensible Markup Language – A markup language used in metadata applications such as MODS.
As Special Collections staff, next Wednesday, May 1st is our opportunity to truly become aware of our role in preserving our unique collections and protecting the environment in which they’re stored.
Named by the Society of American Archivists after Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, and Wilma struck the Gulf Coast, “MayDay” – this year and every year – is a nationwide effort whose goal is to save our archival materials, no matter which type of cultural institution in which we work.
Here are a few things we can do that day that will make a difference when and if an emergency occurs, tasks that we can accomplish in a short period of time:
Quickly survey collections areas to insure that nothing is stored directly on the floor, where they would be vulnerable to water damage.
Note the location of fire exits and fire extinguishers.
Review basic emergency procedures – currently being updated – in our Reading Room behind the service desk.
Familiarize ourselves with the evacuation plan and where emergency supplies are stored – a good chance to check that flashlights are working!
Update the contact information in our department staff list
These are just a few suggestions; there’s probably more we can think of. And it’s important that we sustain this effort, not just on MayDay.
My name is Colin Behrens, a freshman here at FSU. I am a work study student working for Eddie Woodward in Heritage Protocol, a part of Special Collections and Archives. The reason why I pursued this job is because of my love for historical research: more experience in an archival setting can only help me in my ambition to become a historical scholar.
Today, I have met the first milestone in my goal to be a historian. Strozier Library hosted the annual Undergraduate Research Symposium, a symposium dedicated to undergraduates at FSU who are pursuing either independent research or are aiding faculty members in their own research. I am, in addition to being an assistant at the Heritage Protocol, the research assistant to Dr. Jennifer Koslow in the History Department. Dr. Koslow is working on reconstructing data from the lost community of Smokey Hollow, located here in Tallahassee.
Smokey Hollow was an African-American Community located in what is now Cascades Park. It was founded in 1893 and was eventually wiped off the map in the 1960s. During the 1960s, a movement called ‘urban renewal’, which aimed to replace poorer areas of urban settings with more affluent commercial and residential zones, spread to cities all across the country. This movement spread to Tallahassee and led to the death of Smokey Hollow.
We do know some things about life in Smokey Hollow. The federal government has recognized Smokey Hollow as a historical heritage site due to its unique architecture. One of the most famous residents of Smokey Hollow was “Famous” Amos, of Famous Amos cookies. In addition, we know that the community valued education and that it was an extremely tight-knit community. Everyone was either related to each other or was at least treated as family if no blood-ties between two members actually existed. One of the more prevalent stories tells of how if a poor member of the community was jailed, whether rightfully or wrongly, an affluent member of Smokey Hollow would bail that poorer member out, no questions asked. This kind of loyalty was prevalent throughout the community and was one of its signature qualities.
Despite this knowledge, there’s quite a lot that is unknown about Smokey Hollow. We don’t have numbers on things like employment, education level, and ages. In order to solve this problem, Dr. Koslow aims to use the 1940 census to gain the data and then use statistics to glean insights into Smokey Hollow’s demographic makeup. My role in the project is first to transcribe the census records into Excel spreadsheets and then to begin the statistical analysis of the census data. It should be noted that white people lived in Smokey Hollow’s boundaries and are therefore included in the census, but because Smokey Hollow is by definition an African-American community, they will not be included in the study.
I have not yet finished transcription; it will be completed this weekend. I have, however, been able to eyeball the data available to us and make some general observations. Despite the fact that, in 1940, the Great Depression still plagued the country and that Smokey Hollow was an African-American community (which typically have lower employment than comparable white neighborhoods), employment was high. This can be ascribed to a myriad of factors. First is the fact that there was a coal plant nearby, which would have hired the workers (and indeed, did). Secondly are New Deal programs, such as the PWA, the WPA, and the CCC, that employed a significant number of workers (though not near a majority by any means). Finally are the bonds of kinship and solidarity that the community held dear to their hearts. With such a vibrant community, with every member loyal to the others, it can easily be seen how the community would pull together in order to help everyone keep themselves employed in order to keep food on the table.
As a freshman at FSU, it is an odd thing for me to involved in a project of such high caliber. The reason why I am involved at all is due to my luck at being accepted into the Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program (UROP), which is in its pilot run this year. UROP aims to teach undergraduates how to perform academic research, and part of that process is assigning each and every student to a research assistantship, so that we may learn from successful members of our fields. That’s how I met Dr. Koslow and how I got the chance to work on such a wonderful project.
It’s important to note that research is one of the fundamental goals of FSU, and one that Special Collections fulfills very well. While my assistantship has not required the use of Special Collections, I have frequently seen my friend John Handel in the Special Collections room, performing research on his own. It is my hope that other undergraduates will follow our examples and participate in FSU’s undergraduate research community, as well as using Special Collections to the maximum benefit.
Ruby Diamond was born in Tallahassee on September 1, 1886. She was one of thirteen members of the Florida State College’s 1905 graduating class and received a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Chemistry. Ms. Diamond preferred that her wealth help those in need, and she contributed to many charities in Tallahassee and across Florida and was a generous donor to more than thirty-seven organizations.
Ms. Diamond was also a political activist and fought for lower taxes and racial equality. She and her brother Sydney, along with other members of the Jewish community, founded Temple Israel in 1937.
Ms. Diamond was a generous benefactor to Florida State University and established two scholarships for disadvantaged scholars. She supported the Alumni Association and the Department of Educational Research, Development, and Foundations.
In 1970, for her contributions to the university, Florida State University expressed its appreciation to Ms. Diamond by naming its largest auditorium, located inside the Westcott Building, in her honor. In 1971, she donated property in Tallahassee worth $100,000 to the university, and at age 95 in 1981, she donated downtown property assessed at more than $100,000 to partially fund an endowed chair of “national excellence” in the College of Education. In 2010, the Ruby Diamond Concert Hall was reopened after a $38 million renovation.
The Ruby Diamond Family Papers in our collection include family photographs, correspondence between Ms. Diamond and her friends and cousins, genealogical materials, news clippings about the Diamond family, and her eulogy. The materials in the collection also contain information about the history of Tallahassee and Florida State University.
Gloria Jahoda, an author and Florida historian, was born on October 6, 1926, in Chicago, Illinois. She earned a B.A. in English in 1948 and an M.A. in Anthropology in 1950, both from Northwestern University. She retired in 1957 to write full time after teaching anthropology at Fairleigh Dickinson University in New Jersey. In 1963, she and her husband Gerald moved to Tallahassee when he accepted a teaching position at Florida State University’s School of Library Training and Service. Her non-fiction works include the The Other Florida (1967), a social and natural history of the West Florida Panhandle; Trail of Tears (1976), an account of the uprooting of Indians in the Southeast; The Road to Samarkand: Frederick Delius and His Music (1969); and The River of the Golden Ibis (1973), about the Hillsborough River. This book was named by the Society of Midland Authors as the “Best History Book” of 1973.
In honor of Women’s History Month, I wanted to feature this author since The Other Florida, is a favorite book of mine. I read it before I lived in North Florida but read it again after I moved here, which made it all the more interesting. We have books written by her in our Florida Collection, and we also have manuscript collections that have been either donated by her or by her husband. Included in the manuscript collections are biographical information, family and personal papers, correspondence, writings, photographs, galley proofs, and original book jacket designs.
Ms. Jahoda was president of the Tallahassee Historical Society and was elected as a registrar of the Creek Indian nation. In 1973, the Florida Senate passed a resolution honoring her for her works depicting the history and culture of Florida. In 1975, she was presented with the D.B. McKay Award by the Tampa Historical Society for her contributions to Florida history.
The last paragraph of The Other Florida ends with this: “The Other Florida’s pines will survive too, I think. Often among them I remember the person I was before I came to them and what I thought was important then, and the landscapes I have since known, and the history I have since learned, and the friends I have since made. Whatever the fates may take me in the years to come, I shall not be the same again”.
Almost from its inception, there had been a military and cadet component at West Florida Seminary (1851-1901), predecessor to Florida State University. With the commencement of the Civil War in 1861, this aspect of the school’s curriculum increased in importance, so much so that the State Legislature proposed changing the name of the institution to the Florida Collegiate and Military Institute. Throughout the War, the students served as something of a home guard, occasionally guarding Union prisoners of war and always on call in the event of a Federal threat to the capitol. In early March 1865, that threat was realized when word came that a Union fleet had landed troops on the Gulf coast at the St. Marks lighthouse with the probable intention of capturing the capitol in Tallahassee.
The invading forces, commanded by Brigadier General John Newton, moved northward from the coast, hoping to cross the St. Marks River at Newport and attack St. Marks from the rear. Local militia was called out to delay the Union advance, and among those were cadets from West Florida Seminary. At noon on March 5, the cadet corps assembled at the school and marched to the state capitol where they were enlisted and sworn into Confederate service. The cadet’s principal, Captain Valentine M. Johnson then led them to the Tallahassee train station for their journey southward to meet the invaders. Johnson was a veteran and had served honorably in the Confederate Army until 1863 when he was forced to resign for health reasons. It is nearly impossible to accurately determine the number of cadets that participated in the campaign. However, reasonable estimates put the number at around twenty-five, with their known ages ranging from eleven to eighteen. At the train station, Johnson filtered out those cadets, mostly the youngest of the corps, that would not participate. Others were left behind to continue their home guard duties and to man fortifications as a last line of the capitol’s defense.
The cadets and other Confederate troops boarded a train in Tallahassee which carried them south to Wakulla Station on the St. Marks Railroad. From there, they marched six miles to the small village of Newport. There, in the late afternoon on March 5, they joined forces with a portion of Lieutenant Colonel George Washington Scott’s 5th Florida Cavalry Battalion and a small contingent of Confederate marines and militia. Scott’s men had skirmished with the Federal troops the previous day, gradually falling back from the East River Bridge toward Newport. It was at that bridge that the Union forces hoped to cross the St. Marks River, enabling them to move against St. Marks and perhaps Tallahassee. At Newport, the cadets occupied a line of breastworks running parallel to the river along its west bank. From there, they commanded the approaches to the East River Bridge, which Scott’s men had partially burned. Federal troops on the opposite side of the river still hoped to force their way across and a skirmish soon developed. By nightfall, the firing diminished, and everyone waited in their positions to see if the Federals would resume the conflict the next morning. It was in those trenches on the banks of the St. Marks River that the young cadets from the West Florida Seminary received their baptism of fire.
Newton, frustrated in his efforts to cross the St. Marks River at Newport, learned of another crossing upriver at Natural Bridge. At that location, the St. Marks River ran underground for a short distance, creating a natural crossing point. In anticipation of such a move, the Confederate General William Miller positioned Scott’s cavalry at Natural Bridge with orders to delay a crossing until reinforcements could arrive. At dawn on March 6, a battle erupted with the Federal forces unable to force their way across the span. The cadets were soon ordered out of their entrenchments at the East River Bridge and marched along the Old Plank Road to reinforce Scott’s men at Natural Bridge. One mile from the battlefield, two cadets peeled off to aid the wounded at a field hospital. The rest continued on, all the while the sounds of cannon and musket fire growing louder.
When they reached the battlefield, the cadets were positioned near the center of the Confederate line, a giant crescent enveloping the Natural Bridge. There they immediately dug trenches to protect them from enemy fire and were instructed not to fire unless a charge was made on an adjoining Confederate battery. In these early stages, the battle was primarily an artillery engagement and the cadets could do little more than wait it out with the rest of the defenders. All attempts by the Federal troops to cross at Natural Bridge were stymied with heavy losses. The worst fighting occurred in front of the Confederate line in a dense hammock that covered the crossing. The cadets were not heavily involved in this action but remained under constant artillery and musket fire. Cadet Lieutenant Byrd Coles credits the Seminary’s teachers on the battlefield with the safety of the cadets: “no doubt many of the cadets would have been struck if our teachers had not watched us constantly and made us keep behind cover.”
With the arrival of reinforcements, the Confederate troops counterattacked, charging across the bridge and driving the Federal troops a short distance. At this instance, the Union General Newton, realizing that Natural Bridge, like the East River Bridge at Newport, was too heavily defended to cross, ordered a retreat back to the St. Marks lighthouse and the protection of the Federal fleet. The cadets were then ordered to return to Newport to guard against another attempted crossing there. However, the Federal forces had had enough, and the cadets’ active duty had come to an end.
The Confederate victory against the Federal invasion was complete. Confederate casualties numbered three killed and twenty-three wounded (three mortally), with Federal losses totaling 148. The cadets from West Florida Seminary suffered no casualties. With the battle won, some of the cadets returned to Tallahassee, while others remained at Newport where they guarded two Confederate deserters that had crossed over to the Federal army and had been captured during the campaign. After the cadets witnessed their trial and execution, they escorted a group of around twenty-five Federal prisoners of war back to Tallahassee. On their return to Tallahassee, the cadets were welcomed as conquering heroes. A ceremony was held in the State House of Representatives chamber of the state capitol, where the cadets were presented with a company flag. Cadet Hunter Pope accepted the flag in the name of his comrades. It is uncertain what became of the flag, and it is thought that it returned with the cadets to the Seminary and was probably taken by Federal troops when they occupied Tallahassee after the War.
The Confederate victory at the Battle of Natural Bridge had no effect on the outcome of the War, and in less than a month, Robert E. Lee would surrender the Army of Northern Virginia at Appomattox Court House in Virginia. The terms of Joseph E. Johnston’s surrender of the Army of Tennessee seventeen days later, included the surrender of Confederate troops in Florida as well. On May 10, Federal troops under the command of Brigadier General Edward McCook took possession of Tallahassee. The Federal army captured and paroled approximately 8,000 Confederate soldiers, including twenty-four cadets. It is thought that some of the cadets simply returned home after the surrender and before being formally paroled.
Tallahasseeans fondly remembered the service provided by the West Florida Seminary cadets. Beginning in 1885, the state of Florida granted pensions to Confederate veterans, and two years later, they were also extended to home guard units, which included the cadets. Sixteen former cadets applied for pensions, while several others endorsed the applications of their comrades. The Tallahassee chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy issued Southern Crosses of Honor to the former cadets who applied for the award, and they received tributes as “The Youngest of the Young Who Wore the Gray.” That phrase, forever associated with their participation in the battle, is inscribed on a monument at Natural Bridge Battlefield, which is today a state park.
As a result of the cadet/students participation in the engagement, on February 28, 1957, the FSU Army and Air Force ROTC units were officially presented with battle streamers by Governor LeRoy Collins in a ceremony at Doak Campbell stadium. Today the Florida State University Reserve Officers’ Training Corps detachment is permitted to fly a battle streamer as a result of the School’s participation in the action at Natural Bridge. It is one of only three colleges and universities in the United States which is permitted to do so. In the 1990s, the campus ROTC Building was renamed the Harper-Johnson Building in honor of Captain Valentine M. Johnson and a twentieth century Air Force ROTC graduate who rose to the rank of general.
For a fuller account of the battle, see David J. Coles, “Florida’s Seed Corn: The History of the West Florida Seminary During the Civil War,” Florida Historical Quarterly 77, no. 3 (Winter 1999): 283-319.