Showing posts from 2011

Christmas approaches

As Christmas approaches and CMU goes on break, the students and I have concluded a huge amount of processing, filing, labeling, inventorying, and organizing this term. Two very large collections, the Challancin Circus Collection and the Jonathan Boyce Collection, are processed, just need some labels and one needs a catalog record. We have cleaned the room and it is finally beginning to smell good. It smelled like mildew and mold a lot this term. All my student helpers and interns have done a marvelous job. I am lucky to have them. Also, as term ends and I wrote letters of recommendation for students to get into other colleges and pursue master's degrees, I saw one of my old student processors who has just earned her MA and found a beginning job at MSU. Congrats Jeni Russell! I am so proud of my students and their accomplishments. I hope everyone has a Merry Christmas and that the New Year is better than the old. No more posts until school begins in January.

Yale returns Incan remains and other artifacts to Peru

Yale has joined the long list of universities and museums returning artifacts and human remains taken 100 years ago or more from their home turf. Peruvians, who have long waged a battle for the returns, are very happy. Read more about it here

Pirate flag or where did the term "Jolly Roger" come from?

A rare red pirate flag is being exhibited in England. Jolly Roger is a bad  translation of the French term for the color of the flag. To see the flag and enhance your knowledge of pirate flags click here. It is never to late to learn!

new way to reassemble shredded documents, worry in war and for archivists

Archivists shred certain documents with personal information on it after set time periods based on records schedules. For example, signatures, social security and student ID numbers, grades, etc.  Now a CA company has software that can easily and quickly reassemble pages that have been shredded. What does this mean for the future of shredding? Will we now have to incinerate? I remember seeing shredded government documents that Iranians had reassembled by hand painstakingly over years. This may mean we shall have to "withdraw" certain information using other means. Check out this neat BBCNews article from 12/7/2011.

Manuscripts and artifacts of failed polar expedition 1910-1913

Capt. Scott's 1910-1913 journey to the South Pole failed, but artifacts and manuscripts of his team's efforts are on display in Britain at Cambridge University's Scott Polar Research Institute Museum and tell of the fascinating and horrible tale of death and near discovery. They were beaten in their efforts by a Norwegian team. Scott's last journal detailing his imminent death and the death of other team members, as well as other items are on loan from the British Library which rarely loans them out. Interesting article and video. Click here to read/see more

Scottish laser scanners to digitally map Quing tombs

Historic Scotland and Glasgow School of Art will digitally map the Eastern Qing Tombs. a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the resting place of China's last ruling dynasty, its emperors and more than 100 of their concubines. As the tombs fade, their information, art and cultural heritage will be digitally preserved. This in BBCNews Dec. 6th. I can see this application for so many aspects of art, culture, archaeological finds, natural environments that are threatened or endangered. Fascinating. Then hopefully it will be made available so that people all over the world who can't travel to the Tombs can view these wonders and appreciate the cultural significance of them not just for China but for world culture. For more information and video click here

Cool rich Frenchman's turn-of-the-century house opened as museum

Here's something for the museum types among us. This is so cool. Rich and single Louis Mantin of Moulins, France, wanted to be remembered so he stipulated that after his death in 1905 his mansion would be closed for 100 years then reopened as a museum. Everything is original. plumbing, art, nicknacks, private art collection with Egyptian artifacts. Check it out at

Pres. Obama pushes digitizing of federal government records

A week ago Mon., Pres. Obama encouraged increased and better use of digital records to increase efficiency and ultimately save money in federal government offices. There is a question of where the funding will come from to digitize the records. For more on this major development in modern government record keeping click here.

FB ineffective in linking libraries to students

Interesting professional librarian article that has determined that, guess what? At least in IL, most students don't link to a university library through FaceBook. It proved ineffective in connecting to them. They may like it, but most comments were actually made by staff. I'm not surprised. As soon as technology inundated libraries, everyone at CMU was asked to use as much of it as possible, especially in classes and websites. We've been doing this the last few years with blogs, emails, FB. I asked, when are we going to evaluate what is effective and what isn't? Nobody answered. We are still doing it. There has been no evaluative process.  It's like doing all kinds of extra statistics. Do we really need to do all this? Is it effective? It all takes time and takes you from other projects. When enough professional research is published proving some of technology is more effective in some situations than others, management may react. Until then we are all doing alot …

BND files of ex-Nazis shredded

The BBC News, which I love, reports that in 2007 the BND (German Intelligence Service) shredded files of 250 BND employees who once were in the Nazi SS or Gestapo. That was not very intelligent; sneaky or sly perhaps. Apparently they did not follow appropriate records scheduling or there would not be the stink about it. Four historians were and are investigating the files into the BND's Nazi Roots. According to the German news agency website Spiegel, 10% of BND recruits during the Cold War were previously SS members. Some of the files were those of war criminals and they say the destruction of the files wasn't intentional. Really? I find that rather difficult to believe. The destroyed files are 2% of an archives the historians are researching now. There was some notation that files were destroyed or folders in boxes did not match the inventories and finding aids or they would not have known. Some of the documents related to a wanted Nazi, Former SS Captain Alois Brunner. Alois…

what a town once read from manuscript library ledgers now a database

This is from a historians, librarians and archivists discussion list via that I'm on. There is an article in Slate about  "What Middletown Read, a database that tracks the borrowing records of the Muncie Public Library between 1891 and 1902." The ledger was kept by the town's librarian Kate Wilson. She not only kept track of who read what books and when, but also kept a lot of demographic and personal information about the patrons. So you can tell who was working class and what they read and how old they were, etc. It's quite fascinating. To read on click here

College students, librarians, and information

Another college survey has shown what is no surprise to me or any of my colleagues at CMU based on pre-tests for our Library 197 class. College students think they know how to find good quality information online for research purposes or critically evaluate information, but they don't. They don't understand how to construct good searches and they don't think librarians are there to help them. I always tell my students "Ask a librarian!" We are there to help. A recent study of IL university libraries showed the following facts:

-students are doing the minimum to get by.
-professors think students have research skills and they don't.
-students don't often recognize that they are having difficulties
-Here's my fav quote "Students showed an almost complete lack of interest in seeking assistance from librarians during the search process." How sad is that? They need help and don't ask for it.
-Students don't know librarians or know why t…

British Library making 18-19th c. newspapers online and searchable

The British Library is making 4 million pages of 18-19th c. newspapers available online. You can search for free but there is a  charge to access pages. Among the newspapers are the Aberdeen Journal, Belfast Newsletter, Western Mail and Manchester Evening News.  A team is scanning, 8,000 pages daily, up to 40 million over the next 10 years.  To read the article from the BBCNews click here   To check out the library's site itself click here. Newspapers is the first link on the left.   It would be nice for our library to link to this site.

2 jobs at MI Tech

how to clean cathedrals with bacteria

Great amazing article on using bacteria to clean ancient cathedrals walls. Who knew germs could do this? Can I buy some to clean my kitchen floor?

wonderful illuminated manuscripts

Check out this magnificently beautiful, elegant and informative short video on illuminated manuscripts at the British Museum, seen in CNN Nov. 11.

kennedy assassination tape now for sale

A tape of Air Force One recordings recorded shortly after Pres. Kennedy was assassinated is now for sale. The tape is of in-flight calls between Air Force One, the White House, Andrews Air Force Base, and a plane with other Kennedy staff on it. The tape was originally part of a collection of JFK materials collected by Army Gen Chester "Ted" Clifton, Jr., JFK's military aide. In 1991 the Raab Collection, a Philadelphia historic documents dealer, bought it from Clifton's widow.  A copy of the tape has been donated to the National Archives and JFK Presidential Library to provide public access. Historians will spend years going over the tape and figuring out what and who is being recorded and what, if any, new light can be shed on the assassination. The asking price for the original tape is $500,000. Don't you all bid at once! An edited version of the tape also exists at the Johnson Presidential Library and has fir decades. For more see the article at http://www.cbsn…

MAC 2012 proposal accepted

Am delighted to officially hear today that my proposed MAC session and my own presentation has been accepted. The session is entitled "Hands on Plus: Working/Teaching with/about Manuscripts." I will be speaking along with Marcus Robyns of the Central U.P, and NMU Archives, Sharon Carlson of WMU Archives and Regional History Collections, and Portia Vescio will chair. We will all discuss various classes we've taught using manuscripts and teaching about manuscripts. It will be a fabulous session. I look forward to seeing everyone at MAC in Grand Rapids April 19-21, 2012.

mysterious cannonball

Sorry I've been out sick or with a sick kid since Mon. Everyone seems to be getting sick with sinus something here at CMU.  Today's post is about a mysterious cannonball. This is for all the kids out there that love things that explode.

There were no battles in Grayling, MI, involving cannonballs, yet Jeri and Dick Selthoffer found one in 1999 during home renovations. Camp Grayling is nearby, but the couple figured the army wouldn't intentionally fire at homes across the lake. Let us hope!  In 2009, Jeri saw a similar cannonball in the Native American Museum in St. Ignace. Research and discussions with expert Matthew Switlick, an artillery historian, determined that it was a 100% lead  cannonball given by the British to the Native Americans for information on the French between 1760 and 1796 when the British lost control of MI. Prized possession though it was, the cannonball was and is very heavy and eventually was lost, traded, or buried. This story was reported in the Cr…

Looted art returned to Italy and the implications for all of us

I'm quite frankly amazed that CMLife and one of my fav mags, Smithsonian, both had an article recently on stolen Italian art. The Getty paid for art whose provenance was questionable. The registrar who acquired is guilty of taking art without a strong provenance, art which was stolen. Now the Getty has returned some 40 odd small pieces and a gorgeous statue of what is thought to be Aphrodite. The book highlights the situation at the Getty but also discuses the international trade in stolen antiquities which has occurred for a long time and remains quite profitable.  I'm not talking about war lootings. Western European explorers, archaeologists, etc., took many treasurers, illegally, home to the US and Britain over the centuries. Some were put into private collections, public collections, or lost over time. Examples are mummies from Egyptian tombs and the glorious Elgin Marbles from Greece. People are still buying and trading looted art.

The implications for museums around the …

Solomon Islands archivists need a technical advisor

I just read this morning on the LinkedIN Records and Archives Research Group that the  "Solomon Islands National Archives  needs a Technical well as specialized advice and further training in all aspects of Records, preservation and management."
First I'm glad to know that the Solomon Islands has an archives. I know I can't go there and help, but I hope someone with the appropriate training, education, and experience will and soon. It is depressing to think about how a country's unique archives could be lost due to lack of appropriately trained staff. Secondly, I'm glad that LinkedIn and other social media sources that help spread news about archives. Of course this also happened in paper newsletters, but this way archivists can communicate more directly with each other. If there is a need, please can offer advice and ask questions more quickly. I wish the SI Archives the best. Archives are everywhere and some need more help than others.Here…

Awesome George Washington letter and story

Very interesting tale about a letter George Washington wrote to members of the Jewish Temple of Newport, Ct. in 1790.  The letter, which strongly emphasizes religious freedom and his respect and warmth for the congregation, is not a federal document, but in private hands and can be seen through private arrangements. It is lodged near a FED EX facility. What is its provenance? What does the letter say? A  link to a transcription of the letter is at the bottom of the article. It is beautifully written, both the penmanship and the elegance of the vocabulary. Who writes like this today?  It is majestic yet warm. English teachers could cry over it. Perhaps our candidates for president should read it.... To read and see click here.

Circus collection being processed

A large circus collection recently donated by Rev. James Challancin is being processed this term. Published materials,  such as books, programs, and serials have been cataloged. Posters and scrapbooks have been processed and now thousands of clippings, all of which have to be photocopied, tickets, advertisements, and other miscellaneous items remain to be processed.

Here is a digitized image of a damaged poster. This Adams Bros. and Seils Bros Circus poster was printed by Neal Walters Posters Corp. of Eureka Springs, Ark., and advertised the circus performance in Caspian, MI (Iron County) in 1960.

The collection has issues. A lot of it has a strong mildew smell, which is not good, and some of it has water or mold stains. Being around this smell is unpleasant even with an air filter and air freshners going full strength. Mold can spread throughout stored collections and cause health problems in people.  Because we cannot expose staff or patrons to mold, we have to withdraw moldy mate…

MAC LA Committee today

I'm gone most of today to meet with the MAC (Midwest Archives Conf.) Local Arrangements Committee. I'm planning the 40th anniversary reception, which will be delicious and fun at the Ford Presidential Museum in GR.  There is a lot of work involved in planning a reception. I'm glad I'm not on the Program Committee. In the past, I served on the Program Planning Committee  for MARAC (Mid-Atlantic Regional Archives Conference) out east. I think it's easier, although, not as prestigious, to be involved professionally on the regional level. It works better if you have minimal or no financial support from your institution, which is increasingly the case these days. You get to know your fellow professionals. I encourage all archivists to try to be involved professionally, if possible. Sometimes there are periods where you can't be because of other commitments, time, lack of institutional support, babies, etc., but it is a great way to become involved, network, help you…

Ancient teeth, excavation archives finds Europeans are really old!

Advances in medical testing and painstaking work in excavation Archives, have helped to prove that a few teeth found in England and Italy belonged to early humans who lived in Europe much earlier than previously thought, 41-44,000 years ago. This means a few very important things. 1) people migrated from Africa and into Europe earlier than thought. 2) They lived during the time of Neanderthals for at least 3-5,000 years, perhaps longer. 3) Humans and Neanderthals share 1-4% of common DNA. This means it is highly possible that the two species interbred and perhaps that the homo sapiens killed off the Neanderthals. 4) Modern humans in Europe are older than previously thought. The teeth were found in 1927 in England and 1964 in Italy, caves there apparently being the first site humans lived in, in Europe. I want to know why. Closer, bigger caves, too tired to go further, chased by a big cat? The teeth were carefully cleaned to avoid contamination from soil and adhesives used to put the p…

Anonymous and drug cartels=not a positive association

BBCNews reported yesterday that a video on the internet since Oct. 6 is linked to Anonymous, the hackers. The video threatens a Mexican drug cartel, Zetas. I admire their spunk. One of the hackers group was kidnapped. The hackers are threatening to expose information about Zetas supporters, including police officers, journalists, taxi drivers and others. In Sept. drug gangs killed 2 people and left signs on them naming two blogs and threatening to hurt other posting info about the gangs online.  How will this end? Does Anonymous now think it is as powerful as the gangs? Will it get its hacking buddy back? For more on this see the article at

Bronze Age hoard found in Pembrokeshire, England.

The BBCNews reported on Oct 28 that a hoard of tools, other items, and a tool were found  in Wales. The hoard dates to 3000 years ago, the Late Bronze Age, 1000-800 BC. Perhaps they were part of a ritual ceremonial burial. Perhaps some guy never got to return to claim it. Fascinating. The hoard will likely be housed in the National Museum of Wales. Hoards and buried Vikings show up all the time in the UK. Is that cool or what?  Sorry no pictures. To read more click here

2 NG stories of interest.

There are two wonderful articles in this month's new National Geographic of interest to anyone with a historical bent. One is an article on the Iceman on whose body an autopsy was completed, an analysis of his tools, weapons, clothes, etc. taken. A full scale reproduction of him has been made, and, yes, he had brown eyes.

The second story in NG of interest is the huge hoard of Anglo-Saxon gold with gems and the bent cross and other objects found in a Staffordshire, England, field.  Fascinating and gorgeous. I discussed this in a previous blog.

For more information see or check out the magazine.

Halloween image of the past

Here's an image from the Norm Lyon collection when he worked for the Mount Pleasant Daily Times, a newspaper, in the 1930s. It shows a Mount Pleasant, Mich. gift store's windows painted for Halloween. Scenes include a witch riding a broomstick with a cat, and a full  moon, and a field with bare tree. I wonder how much it cost then to park at the meter. A penny? Happy Halloween everyone.

US satellite hacked

The BBCNews reports today that 2 U.S. satellites were hacked 4 times between 2007 and 2008. Experts believe that  they were hacked through a ground station in Norway which is linked to the Internet. The  experts provide some interesting thoughts about security and how the satellites today provide infrastructure for national and international commercial and governmental operations. Today our government and military computer systems are not stand alone, but linked with and to publicly accessible systems like the Internet. This report of hacking is very serious if it is actually true. Doesn't it remind you of a James Bond movie? A draft issued by the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission blames China for the hacking of the satellites. To read this article click here  I would like to know why this is just getting out to the press now.

There have been many hacking reports of late. On Thrs CNN reported that 760 companies have been …

Blackbeard's cannon raised from sea after 300 years

For those who love archaeology, something from the homefront. Blackbeard's ship, the Queen Anne's Revenge, was found off the N.C. coast. Many artifacts have been found including a large number of weapons. Here are images of one of the huge cannons being raised. I can't wait to visit the related museum! Click here to see the video

controversy over magician's house

One of the entertainment professions I ran across in my circus and carnival research was magic. There is of course the intriguing Magic Museum and the very fine research center on magic in Marshall. Indeed, internationally known magicians conduct research at the center. The links to MI and the Blackstone family are well known in the magic world. I read with interest in the BBCNews Oct. 22 that there is a home in Bangladesh of a very famous Indian magician named PC Sorcar. He died while performing in 1971. The name of his ancestral house  means magic house, Jadu Bhaban, in Bengali.   Developers now want to tear down his house. Don't buildings have historic status in India? Someone probably didn't file the requisite paperwork on time. Magicians are protesting the demolition of the house by holding magic shows in the area. Sorcar was a 7th-generation magician. I find this interesting because so many entertainment performers are part of families with very long history in performan…

Wikileaks stops publishing info, looking for funds to survive

Yesterday the BBCNews-Europe reported that Wikileaks has stopped publishing classified information.  W is now struggling to raise funds to continue its survival.  A number of financial companies refused to provide access to the company, depriving it of donations after W released classified government and diplomatic information which minimally embarrassed the US and possibly endangered lives and operations. W is beginning litigation action in several countries against the financial companies including Bank of America, Visa, MasterCard, PayPal and Western Union. If they are fighting to survive, where are they going to get the funds to sue such financial giants? How the mighty W has fallen. Looking at history, in the past, a few important men controlled information and history, decided to go to war, but no more. The explosion of information, good and bad, on the internet and over various media, has changed that forever.  For more on this read the article at…

A new Stuxnet worm may be coming

BBCNews on Oct. 19 warned that researchers believe a new Stuxnet worm, Duqu, may be on the way to computers. The new worm creates files with the prefix DQ, thus the name. A security firm, Symantec, recognized the problem. Some parts of Duqu are almost the same as those of Stuxnet, so it may have been created by the same creator or someone with code access. It is designed to gather information from systems for a future attack, not to attack industrial systems itself, like Stuxnet did to Iran's nuclear production facilities. It is very sophisticated, clearly designed for one purpose. It is not an accident or the result of a hobbyist. Duqu is apparently designed to remain hidden within an infected computer and removes itself within 36 days. Part of the systems components include a stolen digital certificate to validate identity, in this case the certificate was stolen in Taiwan. The certificate has been revoked but it may be too late. I have written on my blog about the Stuxnet worm …

British government documents disposed of in public trash bin.

The BBCNews reported on Oct. 20th that British government documents were disposed of in trash bin by a Mr. Letwin, "who is responsible for developing policy across government" on his way to work over the last 6 weeks into garbage cans in a park. Apparently he read them on his way into work and being done with them, dumped them. He maintains that none of them were classified. The documents include parrliamentary papers, constitutents' letters, and correspondence between two senior Tory MPs about Parliament investigating claims as to what the UK knew about terrorists, specifically al-Quaeda in Pakistan. Clearly he doesn't know how to properly dispose of such materials. He should read his records manual!!!! If I was one of those constituents, I would be pretty ticked. The article does not say if they were originals or copies.  Letwin is being investigated as to if his behavior constituted a breach of national security. He says no. Isn't that comforting? Still, these…

British library criticized

The very respected British Library has a link on its site to Booksellers are mad because it takes business from local bookstores,  more than 800 have close din the past five years, of which 1/2 were independent. The BL defended itself by saying it gains no monetary reward and was trying to offer options to patrons. Will there be anyone left selling books but Amazon in the future? Isn't that called a monopoly? I love the convenience of Amazon. But, it is wonderful to wander through bookstores as well. So many are going under due to costs, competition, convenience, timeliness. How things change. Hmm.  For more on this read the article at

"Hugely significant" Viking burial found in Scotland

A Viking burial in Scotland included a boat, shield, knife, sword, and axe, symbols of an important warrior. Really cool. Click on BBCNews to read and see more.  Additional coverage about his other equipment and the boat he was buried with are in this article. Here's another article about it

hackers hit new low

Sesame Street's YouTube page was hacked by porn hackers. As someone once said to me,"that is lower than a snake full of buckshot." Within 20 minutes the site went offline. Here's an internationally respected child-centered,  child-affirming site someone wanted to take a stab at. The hacker's address was traced but the person found denies culpability. Perhaps it was someone using his id. How sad, but, unfortunately, not surprising. We will see more of this type of thing in the future I fear. I wonder how Ernie is taking all this. For more info the Oct. 16th  article is at CNN's Tech site.

Black Death genetically decoded

By extracting dental pulp from London plague victims' skeletal remains, scientists have reconstructed the genetic code of the bacterium. The plague killed about 50 million people between 1347 and 1351, and as we know, strongly negatively impacted the population, development of trade, agriculture, the arts, learning, faith, and so many other aspects of cultural life. While all that is very cool and interesting, here's the shocking news. All current strains in the world which exist today are all direct descendants of the Black Plague. And, it's current strains are in the world and still killing about 2,000 people a year.  Now that the genetic code has been reconstructed, scientists are looking at other major factors which may have contributed to the horrible destruction the Black Plague wrecked across Europe including its virulence, other pathogens that then existed, and the climate, among others. To read this fascinating article which involves history, science, and better u…

National Archives News

Did you know a new National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis will be dedicated on Sat. Oct 15th?  It is one of the largest operations of NARA (National Archives and Records Administration) and the repository for both military and civil service US govt employees.  It will have the capacity to store 2.3 million cubic ft of records. Imagine that much space full of records! Imagine finding 1 record in that place. They have over 100 million Official Military Personnel Files, Organization and Auxiliary files, and Official Personnel Folders of former civilian personnel who left service before 1973.  There are over 700 staff and 14 other federal agencies in the building. They have a state-of-the-art preservation lab for conservation, 2 large research rooms, exhibit spaces and various other meeting rooms. Too bad we can't join the dedication. I wonder if they shall eat cake.

For more information check out the National Archives news page at

Georgia ER Archivist Job announcement

Position Title: State Records Officer (SRO)   Location: Morrow, GA – Archives
Hiring Salary Range: $57,289.84- $78,707.37  Pay Grade: 20
Posting Date: Oct. 07, 2011  Application Deadline: Postmarked by Oct. 25, 2011
Announcement Number: 2011-0029  Position Number: 00127324

DESCRIPTION: The State Records Officer (SRO) plans, organizes, directs, and evaluates the Digital Archives of Georgia, statewide records management programs, and the State Records Center, as part of the Division of Archives and History. The SRO works closely with Division staff and with state and local government agencies throughout Georgia. This position is a highly visible with statewide influence on the direction of digital and information management  programs in Georgia that requires the ability to think strategically and innovatively, extensive knowledge of records management and digital archives, and the ability to work well with colleagues, government employees, and elected officials.  

DUTIES   Manages the d…

Computer virus repeatedly hitting US drone fleet

I read an interesting article in CNN Mon about a computer virus which has hit and continues to hit and re-hit the US drone fleet. The virus is in every cockpit of US Predator and Reaper drones. These are the drones fighting our enemies overseas. It records every keystroke while the pilots fly missions. It was detected nearly 2 weeks ago and all efforts to remove it have failed and continue to fail. US officials don't know if it is benign malware or not. You would think they would find out, wouldn't you? If I was the head military brass I'd call the CEO of the manufacturer of the electronic system and have them run a diagnostic check and get an answer now.  If I was a pilot flying over Afghanistan and my every move was recorded, it would make me nervous. I might think it likely someone was trying to 1) trail me and shoot me down 2) determine my target 3) destroy the functionality of my drone, or 4) learn how to control all the drones of my drone's type. Further in the a…

Gov. Snyder fights cyber crime

MI Gov. Snyder has a plan to fight cyber crime. He wants to start a command center for emergencies and a response team to support state govt and "critical" businesses and agencies if they are hacked. "Critical" is not defined in the article.  I wonder if his idea of what constitutes "Critical" is the same as mine. It would be great if MI could get involved with effective cybersecurity. To do this, you need educated and trained people following mandates that work from other states. So, this is not an idea which will end our unemployment issues or help the undereducated. I would like to know how he plans to pay for this command center and response team. The MI State Police are to coordinate emergency cyber responses through the command post. Funding for the MSP was just cut. Government and universities are to work together and develop high school and college curriculums for the field. Does that mean the colleges and high schools, get funding for this? How m…

White House executive order to stop cyber leaks.

Two interesting news bits about cyber crime or security showed up over the weekend. One I will post now, one tomorrow.

On Friday, the White House issued an executive order to stop the leak of classified information. The order includes a 7-month review of government protected classified info, establishing a task force to deter "insider threats" or leaks by US govt employees. There is another committee to report to the president as to the progress being made by each agency.  This results from Army Pfc. Bradley Manning leaking confidential State Dept. records in May 2010, and undoubtedly the increasing number of cyberattacks American governmental units and companies have faced recently. There is already debate about how slow this is in coming and how effective it will be, but it does change the responsibility from IT to leadership, which is important. In government, stuff that is enforced at the top usually trickles down, not the other way around. The article was in the HuffPo …

Nazi death camp guard investigations to be reopened in Germany

What is probably the last effort to build cases against Nazi death camp guards who are still alive is beginning in Germany. The conviction of John Demjanjuk in Oct. 2011 is the catalyst behind this decision to reopen Nazi death camp guard case files and move forward. Investigators believe that hundreds of suspects are still alive and free. Demjanjuk was convicted of being a guard at a death camp and an accessory to murder of 28,000 people. They will revisit primary source materials documenting the camps, mass murders, testimonies, photographs, etc. Yad Vashem's collections in Israel will likely be the main sources of evidence. Sometimes archives document unpleasant events and people, but if we didn't prosecutions like this wouldn't happen. For more information see the cnn article at

Steve Jobs is dead

A major creator and visionary of computers and information has died, Steve Jobs. His impact on information will affect archivists and users of his products into the future and his effect on other information visionaries will remain ongoing, both the good and the bad.

I don't own anything Jobs invented. I don't have an Apple, now do I use one at work, nor do I own an iPod, iPad, or iPhone. And I don't Tweet. I don't want to. I don't see the point. Great products, but I don't need them. My arty friends in college and the people I knew at PHMC used Apples to create images and glossy image-filled periodicals, unlike the rest of us who used IBMs or more recently Dells. Most people I know who own Apples love them. I'm happy for them.

I don't always want to be so connected, sometimes I long for peace and quiet. I am not interested in being connected to everyone every second so I can read how they burned their bagel or can't find a parking space or they hav…

report from one of my summer intern students, Veronica Rohr.

This 2011 summer, I helped archive the Jonathan Boyce Lumber Company records at the Clarke Historical Library.  I had been interested in a career in archiving before my internship, and my experience solidified my goals.  

I spent my time organizing alphabetically and chronologically the company's business correspondences, advertisements, financial records and personal correspondences of Jonathan Boyce.  While sifting through the dirt and papers, I learned about Jonathan Boyce, his business, and his personal life.  I organized and took detailed notes of photographs of Boyce's farm, lumber camps, ships, and family.  The faces in the photographs that made me think about the lives of those portrayed, and my interest grew in the history I was uncovering. 
I thoroughly enjoyed my time at the Clarke Historical, enjoyed the work, and the people.  I looked forward to going in everyday, and loved the mystery that slowly unraveled as our work continued. I now look to finish school, and s…

Archivist's serenity prayer

Archivist's serenity prayer. Thanks to Jennie Thomas for posting it.

The Archivist's Serenity Prayer: Grant me the serenity to accept the collections I cannot decline, Courage to decline the collections I can, And the funding to process the backlog.

New York book store owner nabs man who stole from NYP Library! Yippee!

Ok, the title says it all, except the line in the story where the bookstore owner explains how important public libraries are and how he detests those who steal books from them. For more read the article. This guy should be recognized by ALA and NYPL.

thoughts about e-info in the IV treatment room

Some of you know that my son is ill and receiving IV treatments at the hospital through Sunday. He is improving. So, sorry for the few posts this week. I'm struck by the work of our wonderful IV nurse. Everyone gets a new label on their wristband daily, which is scanned. All check in daily information prints out of the computer. Every bag of blood, sodium, and medicine has a barcode and is scanned. People of all ages are getting various types of IV treatments. Children in PJs with IV poles are walking the halls. Meals are scanned, patient records are scanned. Wrists are scanned when people leave the hospital for home. Today we are all like boxes of cereal. Scannable. Our nurse says the paperwork, not 3 rooms of patients, takes up most of her time. It is all computerized. Blood pressure and temperature is computerized. How things have changed. And how this affects all those medical records and reports! I remember when nurses wore white and caps and shook thermometers to get the mer…

archival information comes on all formats, even paper bags

Just read in the Jerusalem Post about an elderly man who died in 1978. Before he died he donated to Yad Vashem a long prayer he wrote from memory for the Jewish New Year (Rosh Hashanah Musaf) while in Auschwitz in 1944/45. He gave up his bread ration to get a pencil and some cement sacks made of paper on which he wrote the prayer.  He later chanted it, giving hope to other inmates. What faith that took, no food and faith in that hell. This story also reminds me of all the materials and formats on which information comes into the archives: paper, photographic, electronic, animal skins, stone, beads, metal, wood, canvas, cloth, we have it all. And, too, all the things I write notes on, such as sticky notes, the backs of envelopes, various types of paper, paper bags (I don't call them sacks unless they have potatoes in them), my child's agendas and homework pages, sometimes napkins, kleenex, scrap paper, junk mail. I've also been note to write in ink, crayon, marker, pencil,…

Japan defense company cyber attacked

Is "cyberattacked" a word yet? It ought to be. There are a lot of cyber attacks happening these days. It seems to me that an intensive effort is being made to attack governments, companies, and especially defense companies. Japan's #1 defense company, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries was attacked on more than 80 of its servers and computers in August 2011. People were apparently tricked into visiting fake websites and logged in, giving up their log in information, this is a spear phishing attack in tech terms. The US believes China is responsible: China denies it is responsible. According to a BBCNEws article of Sept. 20, 2011, the main target of the attacks was a shipyard in Nagasaki which builds destroyers, a Kobe company that builds submarines and nuclear power station parts, a Nagoya plant which makes guidance and propulsion systems for rockets and missiles, and another defense contractor IHI was hit as well, but IHI apparently had sophisticated enough systems that it has…

Interesting MI Labor Day medal

Here is an interesting Labor Day celebration medal from Baraga, MI, recently found in our Display Items. DI is another phrase for stuff that is more like artifacts and miscellaneous than we care to admit. It says around the perimeter, 8 hours to work, 8 hours to play, 8 hours to sleep. The inner scroll over the arm with the hammer translated from the Latin Labor Omnia Vincit or Hard work conquers all!  The medal was created in N.J. Yet, the back is when it gets really interesting. Please note the swastika, statement "Carry this with you always and have good luck," and other good luck symbols, a 4-leaf clover, horseshoe, wishbone, and is that a wizard?  that last one is a new one for me. He rather looks like Santa. I contacted my good friend up north, Erik Nordberg, to see if he had other such medals in his collection, and he says no.  Does anyone else have a similar medal? I figure the swastika had a long run as a good luck emblem at least through the 1920s.Labor Day became …

Interesting digitizing issues

Recently we've had two donors approach us about digitizing endeavors. One wants to loan us a scrapbook to be digitized. The issue is the various formats and materials, copies and originals in the collection. Most are not identified. How much identification do we give these materials so someone can find them in a timely manner? That is one staff meeting. Another staff meeting will be over another donor who wishes to donate 8,000-10,000 digital images. In what format shall we try to save them in so they can be accessed and saved into the future? How will we describe them? Most people do not understand the access issues and the amount of metadata required to distinguish one item from another, the vocabulary decisions necessary, nor the time it takes to do this. I'll let you know what the results are.

Christie's to auction WWII Enigma machine

With all the encoding of finding aids I do today, at least 25% of every day, I read with interest that an Enigma machine from WWII will be auctioned the end of Sept. The article notes its importance in WWII, crediting it and the decoding at Bletchley Park with perhaps shortening the war's length by as much as two years. The Dutch created the machine, which is a predecessor to our modern computers, which the Germans then wisely grabbed for military use. Last Nov. an Enigma machine sold at auction for 67,250 British pounds.  Thousands of Enigma machines may still exist. They are of interest not only to WWII fans and historians but also to anyone studying "early science, mathematics, history and computing instruments." So, if you want an Enigma, you better contact Christie's now. For more on the article click here

International conf calling for papers