Showing posts from January, 2011

treading where no student has tread before

I'm very lucky to have 2 new volunteer students. They started out in Museum Studies, but archives appeals to them. Soon they will begin processing (after instruction from me) a box each of lumber company records which have sat in the dust of the stacks for decades before I arrived. This will mean 2 boxes have finally been processed out of several hundred. My other, third student, is beginning to process the Morley Bros. collection, another collection that has sat in the dark forever. Too many other priorities and collections have prevented them from being processed. Inroads are being made into the dark at last!

SAA Webinars-Questions

I just attended a SAA webinar on electronic records. Afterwards, a few of us had questions about ERs and webinars. For example, who decides who gets to present a webinar and on which topic? Is there a SAA committee that reviews webinars? Ours had no citations or bibliography. How do you verify facts? Can anyone do a webinar for SAA? If it was peer-reviewed it would have value to those seeking tenure at a university. Shouldn't they be peer-reviewed? It is SAA (Society of American Archivists, the premiere peer-reviewed professional organization for archivists) after all. Someone is checking and I look forward to learning the answers.

silenced voices of history and their impact

Just read Shadows at dawn: an Apache massacre and the violence of history by Karl Jacoby for a class. It is an interesting book about an 1871 massacre of sleeping Apaches by whites, Mexicans, and other local Indians. While the long and involved relationship the Apaches had with those three groups and earlier Spaniards is very interesting and clearly led to the massacre, the book is more about how each of these groups told and remembered their history after the act. In their view was it murder? No. The dominant view, that of the whites who published their version of history, is what we understand as the only version of history as we know it today. It is an incomplete history because the other voices of the other groups was not included and then certain facts were forgotten. Some interesting quotes that make us think about history and what is found in the record and what is not recorded in the archives, but is perhaps in oral histories are:  "...memories...of the Camp Grant Massacr…

"...smoldering documents..."

A plea for suggestions for disaster recovery business in MI that conduct vacuum freeze drying of records came in this morning. The main building of the Ed Lowe Foundation in Cassopolis, MI, burned. An article in the Niles Star, Jan. 24, 2011, notes "Employees ...formed a "chain gang" trying to rescue smoldering documents and carry them to safety."  The collections manager's letter noted that "500 cubic ft. of processed collections" were in the main building that burned.  These are phrases that make archivists sick. I recommended a company we used in the past for the Aladdin records located near Chicago, Ill. I hope the foundation had a disaster prevention and disaster recovery plans and that some of their vital records are microfilmed or scanned and stored off-site. I also hope they have funds to pay for disaster recovery, which is expensive and takes a long time. Vacuum freeze drying for you non-archivists sucks the moisture out of soaked documents a…

What was traditional library/archives functions/services is now expected

Recently I saw a list of library/archives functions organized as traditional and non-traditional library functions/services. I thought about that. A 20-year-old and a 40-year-old+ have different ideas about what is and is not traditional library functions. To a 20-y-o libraries have always had computers, databases, DVDs and CDs, computer checkouts, websites, links to order materials online, and web access. These are expected functions of a library today, they have become traditional in the last 2-3 decades.  I remember a paper card catalog with drawers and having to sign my name in cursive to check out a book on a form glued inside the back cover, which was then stamped by a librarian. We did not have computers or DVDs or CDs and you could not check yourself out or renew a book online. What patrons and administrators care about is what is happening now and how it helps them. Now we have instant messaging and Facebook sites. Where will libraries go in the future? Maybe there will be an…

e-Information and new ways to use it to solve crimes

Talk about new ways to use information! A Denver man posted surveillance video of another man smashing into his car in a parking garage on Facebook to find the culprit. The car sustained several thousands of dollars in damage. The owner identified the culprit thanks to the help of FB friends. Police caution FB users that using FB is not as confrontational as tracking someone down in person, but you can be found. For me see the Denver 9 News article at

US and Israel developed worm to slow Iran's nuclear development

It is true. The US and Israel developed a computer worm that disguised itself in Iran's nuclear plant, gave false info to the nuclear staff, and thus slowed nuclear development in Iran.  It was on NBC news Mon. night. See this link for more info.
Now the question is when will this happen to American computers? False info being created as real info is being diverted or destroyed, the ultimate archival nightmare with electronic records.

Huge music disc (LP) collection going to Library of Congress

The New York Times on Jan. 10, 2011 reported that the Library of Congress has begun to accession 200,000 metal, glass, and lacquer master disc recordings, dating from 1926 to 1950 from Universal Music Group. The collection documents every major American music genre of that period. Over at least the next 5 years, LC staff will decide which music to digitize and begin to digitize it. Their agreement states that Universal will retain copyright to the originals and scans, although LC will be able to stream some of the music. Notably, Bing Crosby's White Christmas is included. Music from Chess Records (Checker, Cadet, Aristocrat labels) and Motown (Tamla and Gordy subsidiaries) is not included. The Lacquer disc are the most important. Some of them include discussions of the performers and producers between takes about musical decisions and ideas. How wonderful for the history of music and American culture and social history that these recordings have been saved and will soon be more ac…

Arizona shooting - what will the archival records say about us all?

The terrible tragedy of the mass shooting and killing in AZ is profoundly disturbing. My thoughts and prayers go to the wounded and the families and friends of the wounded and deceased. What will the archival record consist of? 911 calls and transcription and time records, eye witness accounts, police investigation reports, hospital records, autopsy reports, notes from inside the presumed killer's safe, records of fingerprints (electronic), investigations records and e-photos of the Congresswoman's office, which was attacked and damaged recently, and a full history, images, and websites of the killer and victims. Perhaps it will include documentation of vitrolic websites and news "reports" that have increased anger and frustration levels so much that it led to these murders. I hope that research of the records will promote greater understanding of where we are as a nation and where we need to go together. To kill instead of engaging in constructive discourse is not t…

Huckleberry Finn the new edition-more than N words are in the archives

The newest edition of HF is being published without the N word, which is in the original book 200 times. There are various editions published over time, as there are with all classics. New intros, etc. Well, in historical literature, news stories, advertisements, and manuscripts of the past there are a lot of words that have different definitions today than in the past, like gay, for example, and there are a lot of words that make most of uncomfortable today. People who wrote in the past were a product of their day. Native Americans, Catholics, Jews, recent immigrants, people of color, Mexicans, the Irish, to name a few, the mentally or physically challenged, all were described in less than pleasant terms in the past by various people, and this was socially acceptable. They were portrayed as "different" or "alien" or an inferior race in advertisements, postcards, etc. It wasn't nice, and it led to some brutal treatment, but it was reality in the past. We cannot…

whopping cough and horse worms

Having recently fractured my finger and endured a near lethal migraine, visited the ER, and used a lot of medicine, my thoughts go to medicine and how wonderful it is if it helps you instead of hurting you. In the Clarke we have a number of records of doctors and their records of visiting ill patients and treatment rendered. They kept track of diptheria and scarlet fever outbreaks and influenza epidemics. Some of them drove horses and buggies and one traveled with his patients to the UM. He let children write on his trousers with chalk during exams to keep them calm. In these collections are handwritten recipes for medication. Two of my favorites are a recipe for whopping cough and one used to remove worms from horses. Of course, the main ingredients were things like alcohol and mineral oils, kerosene and mash. This was pre-FDA. It's amazing anyone survived some of these treatments. Of course, if you died you went to the funeral parlor. We have some of their records, too. Embalmin…

records schedule issues in the New Year

Happy New Year! During the first week back to work each new year I shred patron registration forms and patron request forms for Clarke materials that have been retained for 5 years after their year of creation, following the CMU Records Schedule.  This year I haven't any to shred as someone (not me!) mixed two years worth of forms together, so I have to shred them next year. That will total 3 cubic feet to shred next year. Regular, periodic removal of temporary records, such as certain financial records, according to the approved records schedule, is part of a good records management program. This is really the only records management responsibility I have. This year I will  attend three workshops on electronic records issues and probably (money depending on if we hire someone) lead a project to inventory and add ERs to our records schedule at CMU. This will be an interesting records management year. Does anyone else out there have a voluntary records schedule? Our schedule is ope…