Friday, June 24, 2016

Friday report from the archives processing room

Well, it will be a quiet day today in the processing room due to people being gone, but the tables are mostly full with collections in various stages of being processed. Additionally there is 1.5 sections of stacks full of unprocessed materials awaiting processing in the stacks that has continued to arrive since the end of last term. In addition to processing, I have a lot of other work to do, but it will eventually all get completed.

Two collections processed, with finding aids and draft catalog records: Jim Hughes and CMU.CMED

small, unprocessed collections, mostly from CMU 1970s alumni, 

1930-40s teachers oversized publications in partially processed Mahoney collection


partially processed addition to Sen. Griffin's records

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

the Rev. Jim Jones

A connection to the history of the cult involved in the largest mass murder/suicide involving Americans in history prior to September 11th is documented in a collection currently being processed, the collection of Jim Hughes (1919-2011). Hughes was a Mount Pleasant, Michigan, news announcer and a ham and short-wave radio enthusiast for decades.

In August 1978 Hughes and some other radio enthusiasts were at the Isabella County Fair when they contacted Guyana and talked to a man named Wes in the medical unit of an agricultural project. As was his habit when having experienced two way communication with another radio station, referred to a QSL, Hughes sent a postcard and note to Guyana.

A postcard came back to him stamped Peoples Temple Agricultural/Medical Project noting "Thanks for the QSL. This is a very beautiful country. The people are very friendly to the USA. They are doing a great job and appreciate whatever encouragement offered. Best wishes to you and yours." Albert Touchette, Jonestown, Guyana, WB6 M1D/8R3 and noted "letter follows".

The followup letter, on Peoples Temple letterhead, dated Sept. 11, 1978, addressed to Hughes from Richard D. Tropp, Staff Assistant, notes that Tropp hopes the QSL was received. He enclosed some brochures (no longer with the collection, which Hughes photocopied) and hope they provide good reading. Tropp noted the founder was Rev. Jim Jones. Tropp thanked Hughes for his interest in their work and noted amateur radio operators have saved lives there and contributed to their success. Tropp closed by wishing Hughes good luck.

On Nov. 18, 1978 918 people died in or near Jonestown. Jones' staff killed U.. Congressman Leo J. Ryan, three news people and a disenchanted member of the Temple who had sought, with others, to leave with the help of the Ryan. Then, Jones and over 900 of his followers killed themselves.

After the mass suicide/murder, Hughes realized the significance of his connection and was interviewed for an article published in the Morning Sun, Nov. 21, 1978. The story was picked up by the Associated Press on Nov. 20th and CMLife on Dec. 4th. Copies of the articles are in the collection.

For more information  and primary and secondary sources about the tragic event, the aftermath, see Alternative Considerations of Jonestown & Peoples Temple, a website compiled by San Diego State University at According to the site, Tropp, a teacher age 36, and his sister, and Albert, age 24, who was in charge of the radio room, Albert's mother, siblings and part of his maternal extended family all died at Jonestown.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

China now has the world's most powerful super computer

China now has the world's most powerful super computer. In a ranking of the countries with the most powerful computers, China now has 167 of the world's most powerful computers, the U.S. has 165. This new computer and another computer from China occupy the #1-2 spots out of the top 500 most powerful computers in the world. The US has 4 out of the top 10 spots. This should get the other competitors, Japan, Switzerland, Germany and Saudi Arabia working on new, more powerful models. What's at stake? Being able to do more faster puts your nation ahead in so many ways.  Read more about it here

Monday, June 20, 2016


Jen and I enjoyed meeting, discussing and learning with other archivists at the Michigan Archival Association's annual meeting in East Lansing. Our presentation "A Lens into History: Clarke Historical Library's Channel 9 & 10 News film Project"  was a success. And we found a source of film projector lightbulbs! 

Every time I go to a conference I'm struck by the new or repeated professional vocab. Here are some professional phrases and vocab that I found interesting or that came up [often] during the conference. I understood most of the terms or why/what they do,  but I don't use the vocabulary as my daily work doesn't solely involve metadata.

backstage-cataloging (third party outsourcing)

cross walking metatdata schema crosswalk is a table that shows equivalent elements (or "fields") in more than one database schema. It maps the elements in one schema to the equivalent elements in another schema. For examuple, data in MARC fields to Dublin Core.

the semantic web -  The Semantic Web is an extension of the Web through standards by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). The standards promote common data formats and exchange protocols on the Web, most fundamentally the Resource Description Framework (RDF).

OAI-PMH  Open Archives Initiative - Protocol for Metadata Harvesting see for more information

ecosystems of licensing  (This just seems a lofty phrase to me)

pledged to the public domain (The Digital Public Library (DPL), which is starting a Michigan hub, is so pledged)

HYDRA (the open source tool, not the enemy of SHIELD) for more info see

Here are some I've heard for awhile at conferences that it appears we are stuck with:
metadata is not subject to  copyright
demonstrating value
granular data
discovery and description
findability (is this really a word?)

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Mount Pleasant High School commencement materials, 1925 and 1930

Some miscellaneous Mount Pleasant High School commencement materials were donated to the Clarke recently. One is a plain program of commencement exercises with program -march, invocation, song, address, song, presentation of diplomas and benediction, and the lyrics to America, the Beautiful, 1925. The other is a set of  envelope and invitation to commencement June 19, 1930,  in blue with gold trim, with two pages of the class roll and the senior card of Ruth Jeanne Holland, 1930. Specifics to the program are not outlined. These will be filed in the Vertical Files under Mount Pleasant-Education-Mount Pleasant High School.

1925 program

1930 invitation and envelope

inside showing card

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Mount Vernon

Very excited this morning. The staff at Mount Vernon want a copy of one of our Civil War soldier's letters about being camped near Mount Vernon. 

The letter, May 25, 1862, to Maria, written by Bowers while encamped near Fort Logan, mentions trip to Mount Vernon and that he expects the war to end soon. He also mentions his friends David Waterbury and Martin Fleuers. Also included is one page of notes on the military service records of Bowers, Waterbury, and Fleuers. 

Bowers, Waterbury, and Fleuers were all members of the 101st NY Inf. They all enlisted on Sept. 15, 1861 at Hastings (N.Y.) as privates, and were all mustered into Company C two days later. Bowers, age 27 in 1861, was promoted to Sergt. on Dec. 31, 1861, demoted in rank to Corpl. on Jan. 15, 1862, and promoted to Sergt. on Aug. 1, 1862. He was killed on Sept. 1, 1862 at Chantilly (Va.). Waterbury, age 24 in 1861, was discharged on Dec. 30, 1862 in Philadelphia. Fleuers, age 24 in 1861, was at some point promoted to Corpl. He was wounded on Sept. 1, 1862 at Chantilly (Va.) and died of his wounds at Douglas Hospital in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 24, 1862. (Information from the collection.)