Friday, May 26, 2017

Memorial Day and our Veterans

Memorial Day is celebrated this weekend. Although decorating soldiers graves is an ancient custom,  the custom became a national mourning ritual, Decoration Day, in the U.S. during the Civil War. It was a ritualized, recognized day to decorate the war dead because of the unprecedented numbers of dead at the time, most of whom died far from home and their families who could not visit their graves, who could not identify or ship remains home, and many families never knew for sure where their loved ones were buried. Memorial Day is documented in some of the collection sin the Clarke.

What the day is all about- rows of honored, decorated U.S. soldiers graves in France, World War I.
The image and others are in Nurse Mary Bourgeoise's gorgeous WWI A.E.F. [American Expeditionary Forces] photograph album. Here is a closeup of her clever photographic cover.
You can see the soldiers and nurses in the letters FR in France.
Mary and her nursing unit in France, WWI

Also in the Clarke there are a lot of primary source collection documenting veterans of wars, mostly the Civil War and World War I, although there is some material from World War II and Vietnam, and one collection mentioning the Korean War. These collections also document veterans organizations and the women's organizations that supported the veterans. There are posters, official government records of war,  postcards, scrapbooks, photograph albums, photographs, letters, pins, radio addresses, printed speeches, as well as secondary sources, published books, music, newspaper articles, and films.

I would like to start documenting more of the Michiganders who have served our nation since World War II. If you are or have the materials of Michigan veterans or Michigan organizations that supported our troo0ps since World War II, please consider donating to the Clarke. There are Michiganders making history right now serving our nation today.

patriotic 1907 postcard in our Display Items

an assortment of GAR pins Civil War Veterans wore to parades, meetings and gatherings honoring fallen veteran comrades, also in our Display Items
Harrison H. Saylor's WWI dog tags in his collection

To learn more about any of these collections, go to the Clarke Historical Library webpage at 

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Robotic police

Advances in information and robotics have led to Dubai now having robotic police officers. The robots will not replace human police officers. "People will be able to use it to report crimes, pay fines and get information by tapping a touchscreen on its chest." The information the robots collect will be shared with other "transport and traffic" police. The robots will be used in malls and other large population center locations, mostly for ease of access 24/7 for customer service. This is the first step in using robotic police in some capacity. Maybe someday they will advance enough where they can be used for information gathering, crowd control, and terrorism prevention. This reminds me of a scifi tv show, Continuum, where the cops wore suits which scanned information and people for behavior and information, shared the information with an advanced network which  fought crime and terrorism, masking what was really a police state controlled by information. Read more about the robotic police here

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Dorothy Hodell Brooks Family Research Collection, 1882-2016

Here;s a blog by Cassie about her work spring term 2017 on a fascinating Michigan collection.

Dorothy Brooks’s collection about the double homicide of Romie and David Hodell in her father’s family, was incredibly detailed and meticulously organized. She delved deep into the genealogy of both sides of her family, the history of the area, the lore of the Dudgeon Swamp, and the tangled mess of court cases and pardons in order to provide a full background of the tragic events that took place in the 1920s. The book that she has written based on her research - A Certain Sadness - also includes poems, songs, and anecdotes which she has personally written or  collected from other family members. 

Oversized Hodell Family history board showing the two murder victims, Grandpa David and Uncle Romie
Almost everything in the collection made logical sense in its original order, so it was left that way. I returned duplicates, peripheral materials, and items that the Clarke already had in its collections to the donor. Everything else - mostly copies of primary sources - was re-foldered in acid-free folders.  A few ephemera were primary sources and were especially interesting: a paybook of her grandfather, David, and a “Book of Life” that belonged to her grandmother, Nina Hodell (the wife of David Hodell). 
The Lynch mob, neighbors and local leaders, who got confessions which led to arrests
A collection like this, which documents the true story of Michigan murders and scandals for future researchers, is very significant. It supplements the history of Newaygo County, in addition to the history of the Hodell family. 

Here's the finished collection. It's been cataloged and the finding aid is completed and will be available online and Google-searchable next month.

on shelf

Oversized materials in map cabinet drawer
Thanks Cassie! You did a wonderful job with this collection.

Monday, May 22, 2017

FCC votes on rule changes affecting net neutrality

The FCC (Federal Communications Commission) has voted to change net neutrality rules enacted in 2015.

So, what does this mean?
Members of the FCC believe that the changes, removing the 2015 rules, will benefit consumers and the marketplace.

Firms that pay more will have their data travel faster to reach consumers quicker. That means smaller, poorer firms may suffer and lose customers.

Some companies (Comcast and Charter among them) have "pledged" to treat all data equally, so no special fees for faster treatment.

FB and Google support the rule changes.

 Read more about it here

Friday, May 19, 2017

Friday wrap up

Friday, today I put away 4 carts full of Russell Kirk (see yesterday's post) after checking and amending the finding aid. Over half of the collection is processed, but some of the unprocessed, once rehoused, will have to be interfiled. Here is a photo of the Kirk waiting to be processed, on the far right, bottom 4 shelves, and the next section of shelves to the left is all the Kirk that has been reprocessed and rehoused (almost a completely full 7 shelves-worth).

12 boxes of withdrawn materials were shredded today so I can finally see the floor. Since the used boxes will now be staying here without their contents, I suddenly have an excess of boxes.

I am also recycling the really old, beat up, or non-archival boxes.

So you can see I cleaned up the room.
Suddenly I can see the floor in most of the processing room for the first time in a year. Holy smokes! Next week our janitor, Dennis, will vacuum the now empty space for me. I can't wait!

Also I graciously got a AD-strip to check the level of acid in the Russell Kirk film. That has to sit for a week or two and then we'll know the results, but it looks like it is in pretty good shape to me.

Here is a description of the film:
Film ID Number: 308-1 Format: 16mm, black and white, optical sound. Date: Film edge code date: 1955 Size: 1000ft. Information off of film: Facts Forum / Academic Freedom by Russell Kirk. Information off of original film leader: None. Overview of scenes: Includes five men in suits, some smoking, behind desks, discussing conservative political thought and Russell Kirk’s new book, Academic Freedom. Men include: Russell Kirk, Prof. Hodges (first name unspecified); William F. Buckley, Jr.; George H. Combs, Jr.; Hardy Burt (commentator). This was one in a series of professionally produced television show funded by H.L. Hunt on conservative political thought. This show was produced by Franka Hernan, Vernon Lewis Productions, NYC. This is a user copy, which generation is unknown. Physical Information: .04 film shrinkage, X out of X on the AD strip acidity scale [being tested] – by Jen Bentley, spring 2015. Miscellaneous information: None.

I also got tab dividers by myself for the Weaver binder, which has all the finding aids for the completed series in it. Supplies and equipment budget cuts left me without tabs. The binder looks good and the material in the finding aid is now easier to use with tab dividers if researchers want to view the paper. I also got all the processed series encoded this month and they'll be Google-searchable by the middle of next month. That will make Justice Weaver's papers more widely available to the public.
nice binder and label


Thursday, May 18, 2017

Russell Kirk collection

A good chunk, slightly more than half of the Russell Kirk collection was reorganized and rehoused last term. There are still a number of boxes that have to be processed and then interfiled into the middle of cart two, so I cannot label what has been re-processed yet. We reorganized it into Materials Kirk Created/Edited and Materials created by Others. To date, 48 boxes and 1 large Oversized folder (4 carts full of materials) have been re-processed. The finding aid has been amended. I also went through and wrote notes on the remains of the old finding aid for the next processor/s. I'm double-checking it against the boxes today and then I'll shelve the boxes for now. About 15 cubic feet of various formats remains to be processed. I plan to have students complete the re-processing and the finding aid next term. Once the collection is reprocessed and rehoused, labeled, almost all of the collection, for the first time, will be open to researchers. The only exception will be letters (personal correspondence) to/from Kirk, which will still require the permission of the donor via the Director of the Clarke Historical Library.

Here are some photos.
Kirk cart 1

Kirk cart 2

Kirk cart 3

Kirk cart 4

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Justice Elizabeth A. Weaver at the end of the term

Another collection I wrapped up at this end of the term was encoding the next three series of Michigan Supreme Court Justice Elizabeth A. Weaver's papers.

Sulaiman "Suli" Albinhamad processed three series of Justice Weaver:
The Per Curiam series, 1995-2006, 14 cubic feet (28 boxes)
Disqualifications of Judges (DQs), 1995-2009, and undated, 2 cubic ft. (in 4 boxes)
and [Geoffrey] Fieger Articles and Dockets, 1994-2009, and undated, 1.75 cubic ft. (in 4 boxes)

Here's Per Curiam in process
For those of you not current on your Latin and legal terminology, Per Curiam is defined as a decision (or opinion) ruling issued by an appellate court of multiple judges in which the decision rendered is made by the court or at least a majority of the court acting collectively and unanimously. Per Curiam is Latin for “by the Court”. Per Curiam rulings are issued in the name of the Court, rather than by individual judges or a judge. Typically, the Court deals with issues deemed non-controversial.

These three processed series join the Court of Appeals series, 1985-1995, 21.5 cubic ft. (in 44 boxes), processed by Jen Bentley. Her work fills the first five shelves on the right in the photograph below. Suli's work fills the bottom two shelves on the right and the top three on the left.  There remains a lot of Justice Weaver papers to process, but in one year this is a great start. Brian Schamber also partially processed another Weaver series, Probate Court, which he'll conclude in fall.  Processing Justice Weaver's papers required a lot of intellectual thought. It is not for the faint of heart archival processors.

Suli, who is from Saudi Arabia,  came to me in the summer of 2015 with no archival skills at all wanting something to do and people he could talk with and befriend. He learned so much, worked on so many collections of multiple formats, and contributed in many ways to the positive growth of the Clarke, from hauling boxes, repacking the UCommunications audio visuals, to reading in Arabic to children. We also learned about his culture, country, family, and faith. He just graduated from CMU with a M.A. in medieval Middle Eastern history this month.  It was my honor to help him with his thesis. Suli will be sorely missed by all of us who work in the archives. We wish him well as he heads home and towards his Ph.D. in history at another university.