Friday, August 29, 2014

round WWI dog tags of Mt. Pleasant man

Here's something interesting to think about over Labor Day weekend.

We recently received a cart full of various materials related to Isabella County (Mich.) history. One of the folders documents Harrison H. Saylor. He was born in 1896 in Mount Pleasant (Mich.), the son of Catherine and Henry. Harrison served in WWI, playing in the Army band with the rank of Musician first class. He served about a year in France. Later , Harrison graduated from optometry school in Chicago . He practiced in Detroit until he retired in 1968. Harrison was a Shriner, 1918-1981. He played various horns for them. He also played the cornet in 1917 in the Republic Band in Alma and for the American Legion. He married Gladys Williams in 1932. They never had children. He died in 1981 and she was still alive in 1998 at the age of 97.

front of tag with his name

The collection includes photographs of Harrison and his family, biographical information, and his WWI dog tags.
They are round, not the elliptical shape from WWII. Dog tags evolved with wars. I remember reading that in the Civil War men pinned their names to their uniforms in the hope that someone would identify them if they were killed, bury them with a headstone of some sort, and notify their families.
back of tag with his ID#

both tags on a cloth strip

One of the  images is unusual. It is of Harrison and his unit, presumably all musicians, with their sleeves still rolled up having just been inoculated prior to begin shipped to France. Some are pointing to the inoculation spot/scar.

just inoculated, Harrison is on the far right
We have a few WWI collections at the Clarke, but not many. One of my favorites includes a beautiful scrapbook of a U.S. Army Corps nurse Harriet M. Huebel.

12 million images to be posted to Flickr

If you'd like access to 12 million images for historic research or other reasons, you can soon get it. Over 6 million have been loaded to Flickr and another 6 are on the way. American academic Kalev Leetaru thinks its great that text has been digitized and is available but he wants lots of searchable images available as well for the public to use and copy for free. Images are taken from digitized books. Read more about it here and look at cool examples

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Tor (inside job?)

Did you know that dark space "Tor was originally designed by the US Naval Research Laboratory, and continues to receive funding from the US State Department.(?) It is [still] used by the military, activists, businesses and others to keep communications confidential and aid free speech." It is also used by others who want to conduct business or communications in privacy, including criminals and those in countries denied the ability to freely communicate.

Both NSA and GHQ (UK security agency) are looking for loopholes to undermine Tor. Tor administrators are being notified monthly via "anonymous bug reports" that Tor needs to fix certain weaknesses to avoid being infiltrated by these national security agencies. Tor leadership believes that based on the sophisticated level of technical skill required to find, understand, and report on these weaknesses, that at least some of the reports are coming from technical staff within the agencies who are still mad that many innocent Americans and British are being spied on by their own government, as reported by Snowden. Read more about it here

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Jen and Tressa

Also, now that it is the end of summer, my intrepid, film-loving student, Tressa Graves just left for Alaska. Together, in the last year, we began an ambitious and badly needed project with the goal of preserving and properly housing and providing better access to the Clarke's historic films. Tressa has done all the labor, testing the film for damage, viewing it, describing it, rehousing it, and then we relabel and I add to the catalog records and finding aids. I have blogged about Tressa before. She has  given several presentations about historic film preservation in Michigan. A year ago she spent a summer working on films at the University of Alaska-Fairbanks. She spent part of this summer working with MSU's collections. Now Tressa is off to study again at the University of Alaska-Fairbanks, studying towards a M.A. in anthropology and work with more film in Alaska. I will miss her terribly. She has trained Jen Bentley to take her place working with the films. Jen will volunteer this fall term and, hopefully, be able to work for me in spring. She is pursuing a MA in Humanities.

Here are Jen and Tressa training in the processing room 

All of my students have also taken my class, Archives Administration, HST 580. If you want to know about the class, or volunteering, interning, or working in the archives contact me at

Friday, August 22, 2014

Good job, well done!

The end of summer approaches. Some recent tour groups of students and parents got soaked in the rain outside. I'm gone for a few days so will post this for your reading enjoyment.

Inside the processing room my two faithful summer processors, Mark Prindiville, and Sandra Standish, have been busy processing the CMU. Alumni records of various events and budget files. These files require a lot of removing of duplicates, publications, and mostly financial miscellaneous that should have been kept 2-7 years at the most. Since the records go back to the 1980s, there is lot to remove. Occasionally we find a publication that is not a duplicate and add it to the collection, notably information on reunion gatherings. Mark has been able to work as a paid student. Sandra has been volunteering twice a week and is finished for the summer. They have both done a wonderful job!

Here is Mark in front of Sandra's neatly organized boxes. She is too shy to appear here.

To date, working since June 16th they have processed about 6 cubic feet, which will be retained, and withdrawn (WD) 71 cubic feet of duplicates, publications, and miscellaneous financials. This is more than I could have accomplished on my own. There is still more to do in this collection which originally totaled about 80 cubic feet. I gave them directions before they began and am here to answer any questions that arise.

Some of the WD material

If you are interested in volunteering or interning or working at the Clarke with manuscripts contact me at

Foley's death begins a discussion of what to share or not and why via social media

Last night I was one of many who got a shared notice on social media about James Foley, the American journalist whose recent beheading by IS is documented on video. The notice from his family was that we should not view  the graphic images or video of his beheading. Other voices opine that we should witness the story he was trying to share of the suffering of people living in the hell of dictators and terror. It is an interesting discussion. I can see both points, but I have chosen not to view the graphic images. It is awful enough for me to think of his suffering and that of his family and others suffering under IS and similar groups.  I think good thoughts for his family and friends and the other journalists and hostages. What will their fate be? Apparently, special ops tried in vain to rescue Foley and others. Foley's beheading has ramped up other discussions in the US about IS being our biggest challenge since Sept. 11th. The reality is that until IS and other Islamic extremist terrorists are exterminated they will remain a threat in the world to the US and others; dealing with these terrorists will be a permanent part of US policy. His beheading and what it means, a direct insult to American power and democracy, will be answered by an American response. It is just a matter of time...  Read more about the discussion here

US patients' info hacked

Personal info of 4.5 million people held in computer systems of over 200 hospitals in 29 states administered by the Community Health Systems (2nd largest profitable health care system in the US)  was hacked. Hackers exploited what is called the Heartbeat flaw. The info taken can be used to apply for false ids and credit cards. Hackers hit in April and June. April was when the flaw was publicly announced, so they were organized, professional, and moved immediately. The FBI is involved. It is believed that China is the hacker. Read more about it here

Just following this story UPS has been hacked as well. Personal info in 29 states has been taken. Read more about it here