Showing posts from August, 2011

Bug bounty

In today's tech news in the BBC I read that Facebook is paying for techies to find bugs in its system. The long range idea is that this will find loopholes, which Facebook hopefully can fix, eliminating cyber attacks, rogue applications and scams.  Google and Mozilla run similar plans. I wonder how many universities do this? or governments?  Of course the question is, will the techies or hackers looking for loopholes find other things they can later exploit. To read more click at

Job announcement

WWI and WWII archival materials found in briefcase=time capsule

The BBC News reports today that a briefcase was found by police in Belfast full of old British materials, including a love letter smudged with lipstick, a poem about Hitler, a Christmas card sent to the troops by Princess Mary, and other materials. Police  think the case may have belonged to a pilot from Castlereagh named Harry Campbell.  The mystery is why this WWI-II brief case suddenly appeared on a city street corner. It really comprises a time capsule. Are all the materials related to one person? It seems hard to believe. Hitler was a nobody private in the German army in WWI.  Perhaps these are the materials of a hoarder or collector or a seller. I have a small case in which I received papers recently and my plan was to keep it as a demonstration time capsule. That idea is fun and works well for children and adults. To read more click on

New finds at Georgia Civil War POW camp include Niles, MI, token

New artifacts have been found in Georgia at a POW Civil War camp. They are difficult to see and encrusted with earth, unlike the ones Indiana Jones finds in the movies, which are perfectly preserved. One of these is a token manufactured in Niles, MI, probably used as a token in the camp. To see and read about these artifacts of prisoners later evacuated to Andersonville, click here  The author does quote from a Civil War soldier's letter, transcribing his bad spelling. It's nice to see a proper transcription. With so many archival links these days to Civil War collections in celebration of the nearly 150th anniversary of the end of the war, I thought this might  be interesting.  To read about the Civil War collections of the Clarke, check out my bibliography at 

I Found it in the Archives

I just received my I Found It In The Archives poster with handy instructions to begin a year-long public awareness campaign about archives, 2011-2012. The plan is a contest in which people submit a short story of their quest/success for finding info they need and want in the archives.  There are so many unwritten stories of  these successes, and so many primary sources in the archives.  And sometimes people do not find what they want/need in your archives, but the helpful archivist can direct them to another friendly archives which collects, houses, and makes available to the public the information they seek. For example, some archivists collect and preserve primary souces documenting strikes at universities, and other related events. Well, I shall proudly exhibit the poster, and when my supervisor returns from SAA  we can discuss holding such a contest. I think it would work better if there was a a financial prize involved. Something nicer than a coupon for pizza for two. We shall se…

New Digital Archives Specialist Program

SAA has decided to develop a digital archives specialist program. There's a note from our new pres. about this in Archival Outlook, July/Aug. 2011. No contact info or website is given. Good idea except it looks to me like most of it is for managers. It should all be for all archivists. Most of us at some point in our lives will be managing an archives, and all of us will be managing students, volunteers, projects, and/or programs. Many people manage and do the hands on work as well. Anyone who is smart will take this to get ahead. I fear a long wait list. Electronic Records/ Digital is where it all is at today. It's the overwhelming responsibility/challenge affecting us all. It is the sexy stuff that impresses the Deans, Presidents, and Dept. heads. I am all for webinars on this topic for us all. So many archivists cannot get travel funding for the "half-day to two" Why not make it all webinars and be done with the face-to-face (Maybe use skype) and ac…

Records of Terrorist Organizations

Just read an interesting article by Morgan R. Davis in Archival Outlook July/Aug. 2011 about captured records of terrorists. Here are some of my favorite quotes from the article. "During the 2003 invasion of Iraq, American forces captured 43,000 boxes of government documents and thousands of hours of previously unknown audio records." That's a lot of material. Who processed it?
 Here's another good one discussing how young soldiers toss records into trucks. "So things aren't done ideally the way archivists or historians would want." Gee, really? I can just see this happening.
After being analyzed by the CIA and others, documents were digitized and "stored in a secure governmental database." No mention of archivists yet. Scholarly value was later discussed.  Materials pre-2003 are available for research use, 2003 are not, in order to protect people. English translations are available.  The records are stored at the Conflict Records Research Cen…

files moved for me

For the first time in my entire career I received acquisitions of an archival nature which I did not have to physically move myself. How lovely! The CMU Women's Studies Dept. had some materials, 5 large tubs full, and the moving personnel moved them into my processing room for me. They moved them the same day the move was requested, too. I did not realize that I could even ask for the moving people to move records for me. It only took me 15 years to learn this. Who knew? Since I don't run a records management dept. it never occurred to me to ask. You learn something every day. Thanks moving staff!

my feet hurt!

On the picket line for 5 hours. Ouch! My feet still hurt. Met lots of nice faculty I have never seen before. Nice weather. Overall nice reception and affirmation from students. Lots of faculty actively picketing. Lots of support from vehicles going by and from members of other unions who brought us drinks. An injunction was filed, so no picketing through Fri. Then what? I hope the judge forces a contract to be settled and soon. It took a job action to move the process forward, but I'm glad the faculty was united in that goal. Back to the archives.

CMU Faculty on job action effective Mon Aug. 22, 2011

After an empowering  FA meeting last night, me and the vast majority of the CMU faculty existed the building to find several hundred CMU students yelling to support us. Thank you! This morning an early rally on Warriner Hall's green area. News vans were present and filming. Off to various picketing shifts. If anyone wants to join the Friends of CMU Faculty FB site, please do so. This is history in the making....

Summer processing interns accomplished a lot!

Here's a photo of Andrea Martin with all her completely processed boxes waiting for labels. They take up almost the entire processing table. That is a lot of cubic ft. she completely processed. Does she seem really, really happy about it, or what? What an accomplishment all around! Andrea, Lisa and Veronica worked really hard all summer, learned and processed a lot, and helped me so much. With the 9 boxes processed by Romey and Anjoli had processed in spring term that means 97 boxes and 7 Ov. Folders  or 49 cubic ft. of paper and photographic records of Jonathan Boyce are finally processed.  Good job everyone!  That leaves a mere 76 volumes to process. Having student interns is a wonderful opportunity for them to learn and for me to get old collections processed.  I am a lucky archivist to have such wonderful undergraduate students all summer working hard for me.  A big THANK YOU to my wonderful students!

Processing Boyce Archives by Lisa White, Summer Processing Intern

What I learned about archives through processing the Boyce collection is how truly time consuming processing an entire collection can be.  It takes a lot of time and effort to go through every single document and understand what that document is trying to convey and how it fits in the entire scope of the collection.  Furthermore, determining what is the most effective way to sort and describe the various components of the collection in a manner that will be understandable to the public.  While processing a collection is a lot of work it is extremely worthwhile and enjoyable to solve the mysteries that can lie within a collection.  One of the interesting things I found while processing the collection was insurance policies and correspondence concerning the English estate that Jonathan Boyce had purchased in 1891, it was amazing the size of the estate and showed just how wealthy Jonathan Boyce was to be able to afford such a property.  Another interesting set of corresponden…

Boyce processing experience by Andrea Martin, Summer Processing Intern


Anonymous infiltrates Syrian website

A week ago Mon., a group, possibly Anonymous,  hacked Syria's Defense ministry's website supporting the protesters and attacking President Saad and government attacks on defenseless women and children. Interesting which sites they deem appropriate to hack. To read the article from Haaretz (Israel) click here

2 rare archaeological finds in Jerusalem

A well preserved Roman sword in its scabbard and a sketch of a menorah and its base etched into a stone were recently excavated in Jerusalem. Both items are believed to date from 66 CE (Common Era), the date of the Great Revolt in Jerusalem which was suppressed by the Romans.  The image of the menorah base is very important as it shows what they looked like in antiquity. Apparently there have been no other images or surviving menorah bases. The image shows a menorah which would have stood on the floor. The items were found near the temple Mount in a 2000 year-old drainage system in which people sought refuge from the Romans and fled during the destruction of the Temple and city.  I love archaeology! I would like a list of everything else that was found. Just think, people made these artifacts by hand centuries ago and they have endured until now.  What do we have that will endure? Plastic bottles? For more information on the CNN article click here…

Archivist Job at MI Tech

MI library staff writes about unpleasant patrons, gets fired for it, sues

I read an interesting article recently from the Ludington News that an ex-library employee is suing Mason County District Library because she believes she was fired over a book she wrote about the library's unpleasant patrons. She called the book Library Diaries and called the town Denialville.  The author, Sally Stern-Hamilton, believes she was fired specifically over the book and that this infringes on her 1st Amendment rights. She had worked at the library for 15 years before she was fired. Now, we all have some nasty patrons, not to mention "colleagues", at some point in our career, regardless of where we work.  That doesn't mean we write about them in ways in which they can be individually identified in a small town, and distribute the book to a publisher. I wonder if the patrons will come looking for her. Maybe they'll whisper at her....

Click here to read the article s

Ever heard of Nicholas Ray?

The archives of Nicholas Ray, influential director of the movie, Rebel without a cause, have been purchased from his widow by the Ransom Center in Texas.  The collection is important as it shows how he developed his craft. To read the NYTimes article click here

To learn more about the Ransom Center at the U of Texas-Austin click here

Rare Hitchcock film found

3 cellulose nitrate (highly flamable) films of the 1923 silent film, The White Shadow, an early Hitchcock film were found recently in New Zealand.  They offer insight into his early ideas, use of visuals, etc. The films will be preserved by Park Road Post Production in Wellington, NZ. cool!  To read more click here

Operation Shady RAT on global cyber-spying

Both the NYTimes and Washington Post had similar articles yesterday on the topic of a huge cyberattack that began at least 5 years ago. Now we learn that of the 72 targets of the cyberattacks, 49 were American. Canada, Japan South Korea, Taiwan, Switzerland and Britain all suffered multiple cyber attacks. Both the International Olympic Committee and World Anti-Doping Agency were also cyberattacked. Someone really wants a gold medal, don't they? The most thought-provoking sentences in the articles to me are:  "What was done with the data [hacked] is still largely an open question. However, if even a fraction of it is used to build better competing products...the loss represents a massive economic threat."  What if someone uses the info for other purposes? This gets scary. We are talking about hacking into "confidential" info, military secrets, intellectual property rights, and trade secrets. Google believes Chinese hackers stole some of Google's source code.…

Did you know that China closed down 1.3 million websites last year?

The BBC News had an interesting article in July about China having 41% fewer websites in late 2010 than it had a year earlier. Chinese censors cracked down, especially on anything that smacks of civil rights or dissent. Did you know they routinely block various social media sites like Facebook, Youtube, Twitter?  Who can blame them after witnessing the impact social media have had in the Arab Spring uprising? They are wise to fear the ability of people to communicate freely.  To read the article go to What impact, if any, will social media, controlled or uncontrolled have in China in the long-term and in the world in the long-term?

WWI secret ink formula paperwork finally declassified by National Archives

How many of you actually knew that the National Archives National Declassification Center existed or that it issued declassification reports? Well, we archivist know. The Center was established by law in 2009 and has been working to declassify documents following a priority plan since 2010. You can't keep it all and you can't keep it secret forever, even though hoarders apparently try. Something has to give. According to the last report, since Jan. nearly 59 million pages have been declassified. The oldest papers most recently declassified date to World War I and are about secret writing and secret ink formulas. Don't you think they could have declassified that a bit earlier than 2011? Topics still in process include information about the Berlin Wall and papers of presidential administrations from Truman through Carter.  I have always found it interesting that historians have been able to go to Britain and access materials that are still classified in the US. Not everythin…

U of VA rare book school slides

Rare book school at U of Va. - brief slide show = some neat images. The repro Franklin printing press makes  me think of John Cumming. Click here for more  all you book lovers!