Showing posts from April, 2011

Yad Vashem and Google preserve/share Holocaust archives

Have you reviewed Yad Vashem's site? In January, Yad Vashem and Google announced that they would work together to preserve and make accessible YV's Holocaust archives. The public can view 130,000 photos and documents online. If you haven't been to their site, it has an amazing amount of heart wrenching testimonies, photographs, documents, lists of names of those who perished, those who were declared Righteous, stories of survival, and other materials, including educational sources and presentations. Recently the Eichmann trial UTube links were added to the site.  By collecting testimony from survivors and witnesses, Yad Vashem provided the Israeli courts with witnesses who testified against Eichmann and documents. Eichmann was the only Nazi tried in Israel, a judicial point which generated a lot of discussion in the press. I find the images haunting and thought-provoking, especially those of the little children. For more information check the site at 

Nuremberg Chronicle, 1494, found in Utah

An original copy of the the Nuremberg Chronicle printed in 1494, one of the world's oldest books was identified by a rare books dealer in Sandy, Utah. A Pennsylvania left it to his nephew. Estimated value is $100,000. It is filled with 1,800 gorgeous, detailed wood cuts. This was reported in Huffpo on April 11.  If you would like to see some of the gorgeous images in this amazing book, click on this Wikipedia link

Tsunami photographs rescued with care in Japan

On April 10th CNN reported that Japanese digging through the destroyed ruins of towns were carefully extracting and cleaning photographs and photograph albums and putting them into containers so that people returning to their hometowns could hopefully find and identify their photographs and those of friends. Some photographs are pinned on walls of evacuation centers. The emotional value of these photographs cannot be undervalued to those who are so traumatized by the disasters and loss of loved ones and friends in Japan. People find photographs and memories of their own lives, and those of their family and friends. This story was also reported on the national news.  Archives-documenting the truth, no matter how painful, and providing emotional sustenance. Amazing. I'm so glad the Japanese are salvaging those images. I'm so proud of how important archives are in the world.

Walt Whitman letters discovered

On April 15th the BBC news reported that 3,000  letters written by the great poet Whitman, signed by other people, were discovered at our National Archives. Whitman worked as a government clerk, a scribe and copyist, in Washington, D.C., 1865-1874. So while he wrote the letters, he was writing them for others, on general governmental topics. The man must have had very distinctive penmanship.

Well it happened-real Electronic Records at last

This week, a hard drive was accessioned into the archives with papers and CDs. This will immediately precipitate working with our Digitizer and IT staff in order to properly copy, maintain, provide access to, and security for these files. We also need a new donor accession form. The one for paper-based collections is inadequate, especially if we run forensic analysis on the hard drive. If anyone out there has a e-records donor form, please send me a copy!

vari-vue campaign pins

Kyle Garver, one of our fabulous students, is conducting an in-depth inventory of our "Display Items," things that are more artifactual than informational in nature. He is now inventorying political campaign pins. These are national, state, and local in nature and include major and minor political parties. Several vari-vue plastic pins were discovered. Vari-vue pins offer two images, or various views. It is an example of lenticular printing, a process which offers various views by having the image created in strips. Some of you may remember the flat rings from Cracker Jack boxes that had two images depending on how you held the ring? Same thing. Vari-vues were popular from the late 1940s-to the mid-1980s. We have found four campaign pins, AKA flasher pins or flasher buttons, so far. Here are three for your viewing pleasure: Zoltan Ferency for Governor, G. Mennen Williams for U.S. Senator; Vole for Goldwater-Miller; and Vote for Abe. If you know who this Abe is, please let me…

Wikileaks a disucssion in the information profession

I wrote about Wikileaks (W) in Dec. 2010 if you'd like to review that post. I'm all for transparency in government, however, I was very concerned then and now about whether or not the release of info through W. would endanger lives of our soldiers or those who help our soldiers overseas. I was also concern about the lack of context of the information. My students felt it was much ado about nothing as most of the information was already available somewhere online.  I just read an article in Archival Outlook March/April 2011 about a panel of information specialists which discussed W and it's impact on archives and records in January 2011. The international impact of W on governments and the decontextualization of information was discussed. Do you remember how the national press happily provided context and noted how important their role remains when everyone seems to suddenly be an "expert" on news?  There is a major difference between real knowledge and expertise …

definition of records discussion from ER workshop

One of the most interesting topics to me  from the ER workshop that we discussed was, is metadata a record? What do the courts say about metadata? We read an article, Lake v. City of Phoenix: Is Metadata a public record? by Scott W. Cockerham.  According to the AZ Court of Appeals majority in the case of Lake v. City of Phoenix, metadata is a "by-product" of public documents, not a record at all and so it does not have to provided upon request. AZ does not define what a public record is. There are a number of cases out there about records and metadata. Most of the definitions of records used by the courts are old, one dated to 1952, when metadata did not exist. Government transparency in public records and the Federal Rules of Evidence provide a mandate that metadata is discoverable, part of an electronic record, and "can be crucial to ensuring government transparency" (p.525) Because AZ does not define what a public record is, unlike many states, the finding of th…

Vatican treasures, conservationists, love letters from Henry VIII

If you missed it, check out this bit from 60 Minutes about the Vatican's treasures of books, letters, maps, etc. and the conservationists. Besides being fascinating, so many of the items and interiors are stunningly gorgeous.;contentAux

ER Forensics

Police do forensic analysis of computers and electronic media as part of their case analysis. Using certain software they are able to view previously deleted files that are still in the computer. Now archivists must run forensic analysis of  electronic records (ERs) that come to their archives. We tried some forensics softeware in the ER workshop in RI. This function raises all kinds of questions in my mind. Suppose we find something illegal, like child porn, while running forensics? We have to report it. In a paper based collection a donor would be smart enough to purge their files of such things before donating them. When we delete, most of us assume the item is really gone, or at least well buried. I don't want to acquire something, make it available to the public, and suddenly have a law suit on  my hands. So, running forensic analysis of ERs must be addressed on donor forms for electronic materials and in discussion with donors before accepting e-records. The time is here to …

SAA ER Records Workshop

Well, I'm back from Rhode Island and the SAA ER Records Workshop. My son was sickened by a nasty virus, so I was delayed a week in returning to work. He is now fine. Although I and many others were sick at the workshop, I thought it was very informative and interesting. I learned all kinds of phrases like electronic records forensics, hash, and checksums. Who knew these terms existed? Now I know about them and how to implement them. Overall I believe that implementing an electronic records management system at my university will be very difficult since the archives and library is not currently operating a records management system for non electronic records. Our voluntary records schedule is currently under the aegis of the accountants. There are so many issues that have to be considered with electronic records, time, temporariness of the records, deleted files which aren't really deleted and could be illegal, websites, intranets, emails, videos, blackboards, UTube, Facebook. …